Lasith Malinga will be unavailable for the forthcoming T20 and ODI series in South Africa after a bout of dengue forced a setback in his return from injury, Malinga's management team has confirmed.

A bone bruise in his left knee had forced Malinga to withdraw from the World T20 and the IPL last year, and though he had returned to training as early as September, he had been increasing his workload in careful increments in order to regain match fitness without aggravating the injury.

His illness prior to Christmas had prompted him to slow the increase in intensity of his training, however, and Malinga will now only attempt to return in time for the three-match T20 series against Australia, scheduled to begin on February 17.

Malinga has played only one international match since November 2015, with multiple leg injuries having caused him substantial problems since at least the middle of 2014.

In his absence, Sri Lanka will have to pick their frontline seamers from a pace battery that includes Nuwan Kulasekara, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Gamage.

The first of the three T20s is scheduled for January 20; the first of the five ODIs for January 28.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando