Cape Town - Proteas captain Faf du Plessis revealed on Friday that he is likely to be out of action for an extended period after suffering his third injury blow in less than a year.
Du Plessis returned early from the tour of Sri Lanka after injuring his right shoulder while diving in the field.
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He said on arrival in Cape Town that although he would not need surgery, he would probably miss the one-day series against Zimbabwe starting on September 30 because of a long-term goal of being ready for an extended campaign which will culminate in the World Cup in England in May and June next year.
"It is just a small tear," the 34-year-old said of what was diagnosed as a rotator cuff injury.
"But luckily there is no cricket for the next seven weeks. It's important to make sure the shoulder gets very, very strong with all the cricket that's coming up.
"Playing against Zimbabwe would be nice but the biggest priority, even it's another two or three weeks, is to make sure I don't come back too early."
Du Plessis had surgery on the same shoulder late last year.
He admitted he had come back too early because he wanted to be part of a Test series against India in January.
"It was a big series so I probably came back too soon but luckily I got through that."
He led South Africa to victory in the Tests but was then out of action again after breaking a finger in the first one-day international against India.
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Du Plessis said that although South Africa had been beaten in the Tests in Sri Lanka he was encouraged by the way the side had played in one-day games, winning the first three matches to clinch the series.
"The guys are playing an exciting brand of cricket - fearless cricket," he said.