Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson is to undergo surgery on his left foot which will rule him out of cricket for a period of four to five months.
He was initially ruled out of Australia's first Test against New Zealand due to a soft tissue problem with his left big toe but specialists have now advised surgery is the best option for him.
"Mitchell will travel to Melbourne this week to be reviewed by specialist doctors and will most likely need surgery, which is expected to keep him out of cricket for four to five months," Cricket Australia physiotherapist Alex Kountouri said.
"The program for his recovery will be assessed following any surgery."
Johnson's withdrawal from the New Zealand Test, along with Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh, Ryan Harris and Patrick Cummins could see Australia field up to four debutants with David Warner, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Ben Cutting poised to take on the Black Caps.
Johnson has played 47 Tests, 107 One-Day Internationals and 28 Twenty20 Internationals, was a World Cup winner in 2007 but has been widely criticised for a drop in form over the last 18 months.
In Tests in 2010, he took 40 wickets at 34.18 while in 2011 he has taken just 13 wickets at 56.62.
Missing the entire Australian summer, which also includes Tests against India and one-day matches against India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, will leave him in danger of losing his place in the pecking order, particularly if the likes of Cummins, Pattinson and Starc impress in his absence.
© Cricket World 2011