PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 12, Marchant de Lange of South Africa during the South African national cricket team nets session and press conference at Supersport Park on December 12, 2011 in Pretoria, South Africa Photo by Lee Warren / Gallo Images

Johannesburg – Fast bowler Marchant de Lange will be sent home early from South Africa's tour of England due to a lower back stress fracture.

Cricket SA said in a statement on Friday that De Lange would return home “as soon as possible” and would be replaced by all-rounder Albie Morkel in the 15-man Test squad.

“Marchant has been diagnosed with a lower-back stress fracture and will require at least six weeks rest and rehabilitation,” said Proteas physiotherapist Brandon Jackson.

“A bone scan was done after his lower-back pain worsened in the past week, showing inflammation in the bottom vertebrae of the spine.”

Morkel, 31, played his only Test for the Proteas in March 2009

against Australia in Cape Town.

“Albie is the ideal replacement for Marchant as he comes into the squad with invaluable knowledge and experience of the UK conditions,” said convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson.

“He has a good first-class record and his ability to swing the ball and to contribute with the bat lower down the order gave us the extra incentive to rope him in.”

Morkel, who recently played for Somerset County Cricket Club in the English domestic T20 competition, would join up with the squad on Friday, according to CSA.

The Proteas lost veteran wicketkeeper Mark Boucher earlier this week.

Boucher, who called an early end to his international career after suffering a freak eye injury in a warm-up game, was replaced by Thami Tsolekile.

South Africa play the first of three Tests against England at The Oval starting on July 19. – Sapa