Tim Paine has labelled Will Pucovski's latest concussion a blow for Australia ahead of the Ashes, admitting even he himself was shattered by the news.
Pucovski is recovering from the 10th concussion of his career, after being hit in the head while training for Victoria last week.
Paine on Friday said the young opener was still "hoping to be ready at some stage during the summer", earmarking Marcus Harris as his logical replacement for the first Test in just under eight weeks.
The Test captain also defended the 23-year-old's technique, adamant he would not be averaging 53.41 if he didn't have the ability to play the short ball.
Regardless, his head knock has hit the Australian camp hard with Pucovski having played just one Test despite being one of the country's best young talents.
"It was shattering when I found out," Paine said on SEN radio.
"I've spoken to him a bit the last few days, he is improving slowly. I don't think it's as bad as some of the others he's had before.
"But obviously with his history we have to be very careful with anything around the brain.
"I was devastated to hear that it's happened to him.
"But he's still hoping to be ready at some stage during this summer, so he's got plenty of support around him and we know how good he is.
"There's no need to rush him at the moment. He's still 22, 23 years of age, he's got a long time in the game if we can get it right."
First called into Australia's squad three summers ago, Pucovski finally made his Test debut against India at the SCG in January.
It came after repeated injury setbacks and personal time out of the game, with his final challenge being to overcome another concussion after an Australia A game last summer.
He then scored an impressive 62 in the first innings of his debut, but hurt his shoulder in the field and was ruled out of the final Test of the summer needing surgery.
"It's a blow, no doubt," Paine said.
"In my opinion, he would've partnered David Warner in that first Test match, there's no doubt about that.
"But Marcus Harris is probably the guy waiting for the opportunity and he's just come back from a superb six months over in England.
"He's probably the frontrunner now for that role.
"He's scored a lot of first-class runs and he's someone who hasn't had an extended run at Test cricket.
"He's come in for a game or two here and there - then he gets dropped and someone else comes in."
Meanwhile Paine himself has returned to training this week after his own neck surgery and is not in any doubt for the December 8 Gabba Test as he is already back in light running and pilates.
Australian Associated Press