England coach Andy Flower admits Kevin Pietersen may miss this winter's tour of South Africa as the former captain makes a slower than expected recovery from surgery on his Achilles.
Pietersen limped through the opening two Ashes Tests earlier this summer, before deciding to undergo an operation to try and reduce the impact the complaint could have on his career.
England had optimistically hoped to have him back in tow for the start of the Champions Trophy this week, however, an infection in his Achilles following surgery has served to hamper the 29-year-old's recovery.
Pietersen revealed himself last week his recovery had been slower than he hoped and there are now fears he could miss the 10-week tour of the country of his birth, which begins in November.
Pietersen will be given every chance to prove his fitness with the ECB this week deciding to delay the naming of the touring party until after the Champions Trophy, although Flower admitted Pietersen's name may not be on that list.
"Yes that's possible. We're still taking that day by day. We're still not sure whether he's going to be fit or not," Flower admitted.
"The infection that he got initially and the subsequent lack of healing that's taken place since then (has set back his recovery). He had quite a horrible wound after the infection took hold."
He added: "I'm not sure exactly of what he's able to do at the moment, the medical people have been handling that.
"I would have wanted him back at the start of this one-day tournament."
Flower is acutely aware of the importance of having a player of Pietersen's calibre going into such a tour, especially with the future of Andrew Flintoff having been clouded by his decision not to sign his incremental ECB contract.
Flower said he was not surprised by Flintoff's decision to turn down the offer, but maintained his belief the all-rounder would stick to his word and put his England commitments ahead of any contract he may sign with a regional franchise.
"I wasn't overly surprised he turned down his incremental contract because it is not a lot of money," he said.
"I haven't chatted to him just recently, but let's wait and see how fit he gets and when he comes back first.
"Fred (Flintoff) has made himself available for one-day international and Twenty20 cricket. So I'll take him on his word that he's going to be available.
"As far as I understand it he wants to play for England again in one-day internationals and Twenty20 cricket and I look forward to having him back and I'm sure he'll be fully committed when he comes back."
England fly out for their Champions Trophy campaign in South Africa this evening without either Pietersen and Flintoff and with confidence at rock bottom following their 6-1 series defeat to Australia.
They managed to avoid a record-breaking 7-0 whitewash with a four-wicket win at Chester-le-Street yesterday, but with their first match against Sri Lanka in Johannesburg just four days away Flower knows they will have to ride their luck in the eight-team tournament.
"Our form is poor. We can't hide from that," he said.
"I would say that there have been a number of soft dismissals throughout the series (against Australia) and those are more of a concern.
"I think it's a lack of confidence. I think if you do the simple things very well you will score runs in one-day cricket.
"We only need to get a couple of wins, we play three qualifying matches. If we get a couple of wins there then we're into the semi-finals so we have a chance."Reuse content