Australia have been dealt a major blow 50 days out from the Magellan Ashes with fast bowler James Pattinson ruled out of the Test series against England.
Pattinson will take an indefinite break from cricket after re-aggravating a lower back stress fracture that ruled him out of Australia’s recent tour to Bangladesh.
"Obviously I am extremely disappointed with this setback after just getting back into a good run of playing cricket," Pattinson said.
"I'm especially disappointed to miss out on the possibility to play in a home Ashes series.
"Over the next few weeks I will discuss all available options available to me with medical staff, to work out the best plan to prevent this from happening again."
Pattinson hasn't played since July 1 when he represented Nottinghamshire in the final of England's one-day tournament against Surrey at Lord's.
The Victorian was a member of Australia's Champions Trophy campaign but was not selected as Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins handled the fast-bowling duties.
Pattinson's extended stint on the sidelines also ends the prospect of Australia playing the renowned 'Big Four', with Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins also in that quartet.
"Soon after returning from the UK, following the Champions Trophy and his county cricket contract, James presented with back pain," said Sports Science and Sports Medicine Manager Alex Kountouris.
"We made the decision to withdraw him from the Tour of Bangladesh and monitor his pain.
"He returned to bowling after a period of rest and unfortunately he is still experiencing pain with bowling.
"During this time we have been monitoring him, including regular scans, and recent imaging has confirmed that James has begun to re-aggravate his previous lower back stress fracture.
"As such, he has discontinued bowling as part of his recovery which unfortunately means that he will be unavailable for the beginning of the Sheffield Shield and subsequently the Ashes campaign.
"Whilst this is very disappointing that James has reaggravated this old injury, we are confident that he can recover from this and return to playing.
"However, James’ current injury is complex because his history of old stress fractures from his teenage years means there is one part of his spine that absorbs more force than it would normally do.
"This is the area the of current re-aggravation but we are hopeful that we can put strategies in place to help manage this when James returns to playing."
Pattinson requested not to be considered for Australia's Border-Gavaskar series in India earlier this year, not wanting to rush back into action too early and sustain further injury.
The 27-year-old instead starred for Victoria in the back half of the JLT Sheffield Shield and then for Nottinghamshire in county cricket, claiming 32 wickets in just five matches during his time at Trent Bridge.
Australia's pace stocks have taken some damage in recent times.
Before Pattinson was ruled out, Hazlewood suffered a side injury in the first Test in Bangladesh while his NSW teammate Starc was not considered for the two-Test tour as he recovered from an injured foot.
Starc is set to make his return on Friday in the JLT One-Day Cup clash against South Australia in Sydney. Hazlewood has only just started bowling having been training in the gym and is eyeing a comeback in the first Shield round on October 27 against the Redbacks.
2017-18 International Fixtures:
Magellan Ashes Series
First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets
Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets
ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets
Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets
T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21