Wellington: Pace bowler Kyle Mills has pulled out of the New Zealand team for the deciding Test against England with a calf injury, opening the way for teenager Tim Southee to make his debut.
Mills, who was diagnosed with a small tear to his left calf after the second Test against England, pulled up sore during training Thursday, two days ahead of the start of the third Test in Napier.
Nineteen-year-old pace bowler Southee is now likely to become New Zealand's youngest Test debutant since skipper Daniel Vettori played his first match against England in 1997 at age of 18.
Southee played two Twenty20 matches against England last month and then helped the Black Caps to the semifinals of the under-19 World Cup in Malaysia, where he was named player of the tournament with 17 wickets at an average of 6.64.
Mills said the teenager was ready to perform if selected.
"He's fitted in so well," he said. "We saw what he did in Malaysia, I think he's got a massive future as a New Zealand cricketer."
If Southee is selected and spinner Jeetan Patel brought back after missing the second Test, pace bowler Mark Gillespie is likely to miss out.
Mills' loss will be felt keenly by New Zealand after he demolished England's top order in the second innings to set up the first Test victory with figures of 4-16.