DURHAM'S Usman Arshad has had an ankle operation and will miss the first two months of the season.
The latest setback is an untimely blow for 24-year-old Arshad when he needs to push his claims as one of five seam-bowling all-rounders who could be competing for one place in early season.
With Mark Wood available to support Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth, the fourth seamer's role will be the most hotly contested in the side.
Arshad has had a number of injuries since impressing on his debut at the end of the 2013 season, making only a further 16 first-class appearances.
Everyone else turned up fit for yesterday's pre-season photo-call, barring batsman Graham Clark, who missed the second day of this week's friendly against Middlesex at Merchant Taylor's School because of illness.
With Jack Burnham making an impressive hundred in that match and new signing Cameron Steel weighing in with a half-century, Clark needs runs in the match against Durham University, starting at Emirates Riverside tomorrow.
Otherwise he could be the one to make way at the top of the order when South African Test opener Stephen Cook arrives at the weekend to begin preparations for his LV County Championship debut against Nottinghamshire next Friday.
Keaton Jennings will play tomorrow and is keen to take any opportunity to remain prominent in the England selectors' thoughts following his debut century in India.
“I might be competing with Haseeb Hameed to open with Alastair Cook or there might be a slot at No 3. I can't see Joe Root wanting to bat there,” said Jennings.
“I haven't had much recent contact with the England hierarchy, but there's no Test cricket until July and until then I just have to keep scoring runs.”
Jennings will captain Durham in the 50-over cup, in which they face a block of eight matches in the new early-season slot, starting with the visit of Derbyshire on April 27. They will again take one of those games to South Northumberland, against Leicestershire on May 5.
Four-day skipper Paul Collingwood admitted it has yet to be decided who will be captain in the NatWest T20 Blast. He will be 41 by the time that competition starts and after several niggling injuries last season much will depend on his fitness.
But he insisted that other leaders are emerging, saying: “It can be quite surprising what some of them contribute in the dressing room. They might not stand out as natural leaders but there are some people who could do the job.
“Paul Coughlin is an example. His work ethic is second to none and he is the sort who could move the team and the culture forward.”