Johannesburg: South Africa paceman Vernon Philander will miss the first two tests against England because of injury, team officials said on Tuesday as the squad returned from their 3-0 hiding in India.
Philander suffered a freak injury in a warm-up game of football before the second test in Bangalore, going over on his left ankle and tearing ligaments.
South Africa are hoping fellow fast bowler Dale Steyn will be fit for the first test against England in Durban that starts on Dec. 26.
Steyn suffered a groin strain midway through the second test in India and did not bowl again in the series.
"We`re all optimistic the bowlers will get their confidence back and the batters will do the job against England," said captain Hashim Amla.
South Africa meet England in a four-test series.