Saqib Mahmood, England's newest pace bowler, has been ruled out of the northern summer season, further reducing the options for incoming coach Brendon McCullum.
It is fortunate both the New Zealander, and new captain Ben Stokes, had already promised to recall veterans James Anderson and Stuart Broad, because there are few fit alternatives.
Mahmood, who only made his debut in the second Test against the West Indies in March, has a stress fracture of the back.
The Lancashire seamer joins Mark Wood, Jofra Archer, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes and Matt Fisher on the injury list.
In addition Ollie Robinson, whose fitness was questioned during the Ashes, has been playing for Sussex, but has only bowled 59 overs in a stop-start opening to the season.
Mahmood looked set to play a major role in the international summer after impressing during his first two Test appearances in the West Indies.
That followed a spell playing fir Sydney Thunder in BBL.
Mahmood was inked in for the squad to face New Zealand at Lord's on June 2, the first game for the Stokes-McCullum partnership, but is now facing a long rehabilitation process.
The 25-year-old has made just 28 first-class appearances since his Red Rose debut in 2016 and has dealt with a series of fitness issues.
He has made just one County Championship appearance this term, taking four wickets against Gloucestershire in April.
England are thus likely to select both Anderson, 39, and Broad, 35, plus either Robinson or one of the Overton twins Craig and Jamie. Somerset's Craig took four wickets in two Tests in the West Indies while uncapped Jamie has begun the season bowling sharply for Surrey.
Australian Associated Press
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