Struggling Australian pace spearhead Brett Lee is almost certain to miss out the third Test against South Africa starting on Saturday in Sydney due to a foot injury, team Physio Alex Kountouris said.
The injury kept Lee off the ground for the entire third day of the second Test against South Africa at the MCG though the New South Wales pacer will attempt to bowl in the visitors' second innings.
Kountouris termed the condition as "a stress reaction of the metatarsal bone which could soon turn into a stress fracture" and said Lee might spend the next month remaining out of action.
That would rule Lee out of Australia's ODIs against South Africa and New Zealand and would mean a potential return in the Test series in South Africa that begins in late February.
"At the moment the crack's not there but it's not far away. There's a very strong indication the crack's not far away. It could be one ball away, it could be 10 balls away," Kountouris said.
"I don't think he'll be able to play the Sydney Test (starting on January 3). It would be something between four and six weeks," he was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press (AAP).
Lee has had problems with his left ankle and has had four operations on the joint, the most recent of which kept him out of last year's World Cup.
His absence for his home Test leaves fellow NSW quick Doug Bollinger and Tasmania's Ben Hilfenhaus vying for a Test debut.