Teenage paceman Pat Cummins will miss the start of Australia's Test series against India after scans revealed his heel injury is more serious than initially diagnosed.
The 18-year-old Cummins injured his left heel in the second Test against South Africa last month when he took six second-innings wickets and hit the winning runs in a man-of-the-match performance on debut at Johannesburg.
He was ruled out of the ongoing two-Test series against New Zealand with a suspected soft-tissue injury.
But Australia team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris on Wednesday said a specialist had subsequently detected a bone stress injury, meaning Cummins was unlikely to resume bowling until early to mid-January.
The four-Test series against India starts Dec. 26 at Melbourne and continues with matches in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.
Pat Howard, the manager for team performance, said it was important for Cummins' development to ensure that the young fast bowler wasn't rushed back before the injury had healed.
"Scans have revealed a bone stress injury which pushes out his recovery by a few weeks. This wasn't picked up in the initial scans done in South Africa," Howard said. "Unfortunately this, when combined with Patrick's young age, means that he will miss much of the Indian series."
With bowlers Cummins, Mitchell Johnson, Shane Watson and Ryan Harris all out with injuries, 21-year-old James Pattinson and left-armer Mitchell Starc made their Test debuts in the series-opener against New Zealand in Brisbane last week.
Pattinson's second-innings haul of 5-27 inspired Australia's nine-wicket win in the first Test.