An elbow niggle that kept Jofra Archer out of the team in the previous two Tests resurfaced to render him unavailable for the final match against South Africa.
The 24-year-old speedster withdrew from the pre-match warm-up after complaining about a sore elbow to the team doctor.
He was in contention for a spot in the playing XI for the fourth Test at Johannesburg following a series of impressive spells in the team's training sessions.
Making swift progress in the lead-up to the final red-ball game of England's tour of South Africa, Archer's much-anticipated comeback to the Test unit was cut short on Friday morning while bowling out in the middle before the coin-toss.
Archer was observed to be involved in a lengthy discussion with skipper Joe Root, coach Chris Silverwood and the England team doctor, all of whom unanimously decided it was better for the star quick to sit out the game.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t guarantee he’d get through the whole game, it was a difficult decision. It is disappointing for him as he has tried hard to get fit,” Root said of Archer.
Despite the injury blow, England were still able to employ an extended pace line-up on a ground which traditionally favours seamers.
Mark Wood was called on again, marking it the first instance of back-to-back Tests for the right-armer in five years, nullifying the fears surrounding his fitness ahead of the contest.
All-rounder Chris Woakes, who has failed to get a game on this tour so far, was also included in the side with England electing to bat first.
Dom Bess was the hero of England's massive win in the last Test by earning his maiden five-for on the international arena but was left out, meaning Root would most likely serve as the primary spin bowling option.
Doubts persist over Archer's longevity in the conventional five-day format as he endured a poor run during England's series defeat in New Zealand.
Although the Sussex bowler has been rested for the ODIs against South Africa, it remains to be seen whether he gets fit in time for the T20I assignment.