Australia will be without almost half of their first-choice XI during an upcoming Test series against Pakistan, with injured pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins both forced to miss the UAE tour.
Hazlewood and Cummins, who are both recovering from back injuries, haven't played since the scandal-plagued tour of South Africa.
Australia's two-Test series against Pakistan is slated to start in early October, but the potent pair haven't resumed bowling and now won't have enough time to build up the required conditioning.
Hazlewood and Cummins are seeking to instead return in the domestic one-day competition then play in the home ODI series against South Africa that begins on November 4.
Australia's four-Test series against India doesn't start until December 6 at Adelaide Oval, leaving them plenty of time to regain fitness before the world No.1 Test team arrive.
However, their absence in the UAE will test the nation's pace depth and could prompt selectors to blood a debutant quick in what has often been an unforgiving country for bowlers.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns and coach Justin Langer will be hamstrung as they attempt to rebuild the Test side after the Cape Town cheating scandal.
Banned trio Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will also be enforced omissions from the touring party that suffered a 3-1 series loss to South Africa earlier this year.
In better news for selectors, Mitchell Starc has recovered from the leg injury that forced him to miss this year's Indian Premier League.
Shaun Marsh (shoulder) and Mitch Marsh (foot) are also tracking well as they race the clock to be fit for the Tests against Pakistan.
Hohns' panel isn't expected to settle on the Test squad until an Australia A tour of India ends in a month's time.
The Australia A trip, which starts next week with a one-day series and is followed by a pair of first-class games, will help settle a handful of selection debates.
Fast bowlers Brendan Doggett, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Chris Tremain have been picked for the red-ball section of the Australia A tour, suggesting they're in the box seat to be called up to the Test squad.
Selectors may also consider offering Test recalls to some of the nation's more experienced pacemen, such as Jackson Bird, Peter Siddle and Chadd Sayers.
Australian Associated Press