Perth Scorchers coach Adam Voges says star paceman AJ Tye is still only at 70 per cent capacity and won't be risked for Sunday's crunch BBL clash with the Sydney Thunder.
Tye hasn't played since rupturing the medial ligament in his right elbow while throwing during an Australian T20 training session in October.
The 33-year-old underwent surgery in a bid to fix the problem, and only returned to bowling duties with a cricket ball last week.
The Scorchers' finals hopes hang in the balance following Friday night's 16-run loss to the Adelaide Strikers at Optus Stadium.
Perth currently sit in fourth spot, but could drop to as low as seventh if they lose to the sixth-placed Thunder in Sydney on Sunday.
A win would seal the Scorchers a finals berth - most likely a home elimination final.
Tye is one of the best T20 bowlers in the world, but his long stint out of the game means his potential selection in the finals would be a big risk.
Voges ruled Tye out of Sunday's clash with the Thunder, but is keeping the door ajar for a finals return.
"He's already over there (in Sydney) just checking with the surgeon to get that final tick, all clear," Voges said.
"He's probably only at 60 or 70 per cent at the moment, and he's doing everything possible to try and get right for finals, and we'll give him every opportunity.
"It's a risk, he hasn't played any cricket for a while. He wouldn't be able to throw, he hasn't batted a lot either.
"But sometimes in T20 cricket you've got to take a few risks, so we'll give him every opportunity and we'll see how we go."
The Scorchers will make at least one change against the Thunder, with new import Morne Morkel replacing Chris Jordan (international duties).
Adelaide's destiny is in their own hands following four straight victories.
A victory over the Hobart Hurricanes in Adelaide on Sunday would secure second spot for the Strikers, and paceman Wes Agar said confidence was high amongst the group.
"We're gelling really well as a side and we're firing at the top with our batting," Agar said.
"Our batters up the top are playing with confidence and playing with freedom and it's really helping us as bowlers in the back end to defend totals."
Australian Associated Press