Mitch Marsh's bid to win back his Test spot has suffered a huge blow after he was ruled out for three months due to an ongoing ankle injury.
Marsh had keyhole surgery on his left ankle in Sydney on Thursday to remove loose bone fragments and repair cartilage.
The 31-year-old has battled the injury for an extended period and decided to proceed with surgery in consultation with the Australian and Western Australian high-performance staff.
Marsh carried the injury into the recent Twenty20 World Cup and only bowled once during the tournament.
Cameron Green has overtaken him in the Test squad pecking order, but Marsh would have been in the running for a recall if Green succumbed to injury.
Marsh's surgery means he is now no chance to play in the three-Test home series against South Africa this summer or the four-Test tour of India in February.
He will also miss the entire BBL campaign for the Perth Scorchers.
Glenn Maxwell is also set to miss the Test tour of India after breaking his leg in a freak accident at a friend's 50th birthday celebration.
Marsh has not featured in the Test team since 2019, but his strong form in the ODI and T20 arenas raised the prospect of him squeezing back in.
Australia's chief selector George Bailey is hopeful of getting Marsh back in time for the ODI series against India in March.
"In undertaking the surgery now, it gives Mitchell the best chance to recover and resume his allrounder skillset, which is an important part of our plans for the upcoming year and beyond," Bailey said.
Marsh's injury is a huge blow to the Scorchers, who have been dealt the additional setback of losing English star Phil Salt for the entire tournament.
Salt sustained a grade-two ligament injury to his left shoulder while diving for a ball during England's clash with Australia at the MCG on November 22.
"Losing Mitch and Phil so close to the start of the season is very disappointing," Scorchers high-performance manager Kade Harvey said
"Mitch is one of the best ball-strikers in global cricket with an incredible BBL record, and his leadership and presence around the group is enormous.
"Phil has proven his class for England and in T20 tournaments around the world, so it's unfortunate he won't pull on the orange this summer.
"We're under no illusions about how difficult it will be to cover the absence of Mitch and Phil, but we take pride in the depth of our squad and have a lot of players capable of stepping up."
The Scorchers also lost last season's grand-final hero Laurie Evans after he tested positive to a banned substance.
The defending champions have since recruited former South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, who will only be available for the first seven games.