Proteas skipper AB de Villiers is unlikely to return to lead the team against Sri Lanka on Boxing Day in Port Elizabeth as he recovers from an elbow injury.
De Villiers has been unable to play any domestic cricket yet and as such is unable to prove his fitness to the national selectors.
The skipper has not played any cricket since he turned out for the Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League back in July.
South Africa have coped admirably without their skipper with Faf du Plessis leading the team to a Test series win over New Zealand and an ODI series whitewash and Test series triumph over Australia.
While De Villiers returned to training with his domestic franchise the Titans last week his surgeon advised against playing just yet.
De Villiers said last week: “(Titans captain) Albie Morkel and (coach) Mark Boucher wanted me to play which boosted me to try and come back, but the surgeon said three months, not two months, so I’ve been a bit naughty.
“I’ve tried to push it hard to get back on the park. Hopefully I’ll make the Test matches but we’ll see what happens in a week’s time. We’ll assess it as we go on but things change all the time.”
The squad to face Sri Lanka on December 26 is expected to be announced on Tuesday.