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Vernon Philander ruled out of first two Tests against England

South Africa's Vernon Philander
Image: Vernon Philander injured his ankle playing football

South Africa bowler Vernon Philander will miss the first two Tests of the series against England because of an ankle injury.

Philander tore ligaments in his left ankle during the tour of India, where South Africa fell to a 3-0 series defeat.

The fast bowler was playing football with team-mates before the second Test in Bangalore when he suffered the injury, and the initial prognosis had him doubtful for the opening clash with England, which starts on Boxing Day.

His absence could mean an extended run in the South Africa side for Kyle Abbott, who took 5-40 during India's first innings in the series finale in Delhi after coming in as a replacement for Philander earlier on the tour.

But the Proteas might have fast bowler Dale Steyn available on Boxing Day after he suffered a groin injury midway through the second Test against India.

Dale Steyn has been ruled out of South Africa's fourth Test against India
Image: Dale Steyn has been out with a groin strain

Team doctor Mohammed Moosajee said Steyn will have a fitness test and could play his first domestic four-day game in six years as a warm-up for the England series.

Steyn has been pencilled in to play for the Cape Cobras against the Knights at Newlands from December 17 in the Sunfoil Series - it would be his first four-day game since joining the team in 2009.

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Watch England's Test series against South Africa live on Sky Sports 2 HD. Coverage of the first Test starts on December 26 at 7.30am.

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