Blackcaps coach Gary Stead won't take risks over the fitness of fast-bowler Kyle Jamieson, with no certainty he'll contest February's home test series against England.
Jamieson, 28, hasn't played any form of cricket since June, when he suffered a back injury in the Blackcaps' second-test defeat in England.
The loss of Trent Boult, who was released from his central contract last year, has left the Blackcaps particularly short in the test fast-bowling department, with most of the work now falling to captain Tim Southee, Matt Henry and Neil Wagner.
In the red-ball format, Jamieson looms as one of the Blackcaps' best prospects, if not the world game.
Jamieson took 50 test wickets quicker than any New Zealander, and is the eighth fastest in the history of the game to reach the milestone.
But with back injuries a potential career-ender for fast bowlers, Stead and his fellow selectors won't push Jamieson to return before he's fully ready.
Instead, he will make his return through domestic cricket with Auckland, before the Blackcaps even consider a recall for the two-test series against England next month.
"We're just working through that at the moment on a week by week basis with Kyle," said Stead. "He's due to start playing again for Auckland in a week or so.
"We'll make a decision a bit closer to the time around the England test series, whether that's a step too far or whether that's the right time for him to play again.
"He's been out of cricket for a long time now. For us, it would be silly to push too quickly and set him back again.
"With the long-term plan of what's ahead of us, there's a lot of cricket still to come."
While Jamieson will be touch and go to face England, Stead ruled Boult out of a return to the whites.
The veteran is currently travelling the globe, playing T20 cricket and just finishing a stint with Melbourne Stars in Australia's Big Bash League.
Already contracted to Mumbai Indians Emirates in the new UAE-based ILT20 league and Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, Boult's future test involvement is uncertain.
The inaugural ILT20 season ends just three days before the first test against England (February 16) and Stead concedes Boult won't play any part in the two-match series.
"Trent and I have had discussions, [but] his return from the UAE would only be a day or two immediately prior to that.
"From a workload perspective, that's out of the picture."
Before the England series, the Blackcaps face Pakistan in three one day internationals, beginning on Monday (NZ time).