Brett Lee's hopes of featuring in next week's third Ashes Test at Edgbaston suffered a major blow on Thursday as the injury-plagued pace bowler was ruled out of Australia's tour match against Northamptonshire.
Lee has been sidelined for the first two Tests against England after injuring his side in Australia's final warm-up match against the England Lions at the start of this month.
With Ricky Ponting's side trailing 1-0 in the series, the tourists had hoped to include Lee against Northamptonshire to prove his fitness for the Edgbaston clash.
But he was restricted to stretching and jogging exercises at the County Ground on Thursday, while his team-mates prepared in earnest in the nets to face their hosts in a three-day match starting on Friday.
Mike Hussey, standing in as captain against his old county, later confirmed at a press conference that Lee will not be playing.
An Australia team spokesman declined to confirm Lee's unavailability in Northampton definitely rules him out of an imminent Test return. But the consensus is that there is little chance of him being risked next week, unless in an emergency.
In the 32-year-old pace bowler's absence in the first two Tests, Australia dominated an opening draw in Cardiff and then lost at Lord's last week.
One of their main worries has been the form of Lee's strike-bowling partner Mitchell Johnson, who will play against Northamptonshire in the hope of finding his range in time to help Australia battle back into the five-match series in Birmingham.