England all-rounder Ben Stokes' hopes of making a Test return suffered a major blow as he has been ruled of his side's two-day warm-up match against New Zealand XI due to a back injury.
However, it is believed that the 26-year-old's injury is not that serious to put his highly-anticipated return to Test cricket against New Zealand in jeopardy.
The opening warm-up match would have been Stokes' first match since his last Test appearance against West Indies in September 2017 after which he was ruled out the Ashes series in the wake of his alleged involvement in a scuffle outside a Bristol City nightclub on September 25.
Besides Stokes, all-rounder Chris Woakes and Craig Overton will also miss the opening practice match due to hamstring and quad injuries respectively.
The opening two-day warm-up match between England and New Zealand XI is slated to be held at Hamilton on Wednesday.
Stay updated on the go with Sify Live Scores App. Click here to download it for your device