Daniel Vettori is unlikely to recover from his Achilles injury in time to be fit for the home series against England, the New Zealand all-rounder told local media.
Although aiming to play domestic one-day cricket at the end of February, Vettori said he would be unable to play any longer-form games in the lead up to the three-test series, which starts with the first match in Dunedin on March 6.
"I'm hoping to be available for selection for Northern Districts' one-day campaign, and then whatever happens from there happens," Vettori said in comments published by Fairfax Media on Wednesday, referring to his domestic side.
Northern Districts play their first match in New Zealand's local one-day competition on February 26.
"I won't be able to play any four-day cricket, so the test matches against England may be a stretch for me."
Vettori, New Zealand's most experienced international, said the return tour to England starting in May was a more realistic goal.
"But Achilles are funny things, they come and go with the pain and I need to prove to not only the selectors, but myself, that I can manage back-to-back days of cricket. That's the plan, but I'll just see how I go," the 34-year-old added.
Former captain Vettori hurt his foot at the World Twenty20 tournament in September and missed New Zealand's subsequent tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa.
New Zealand head into their home series against England a lowly eighth in the test rankings and after a demoralising 2-0 series loss away to the Proteas.