Jack Leach is to return home with immediate effect from England’s tour of South Africa.

The Somerset spinner has struggled to fully recover from sepsis he picked up during the tour of New Zealand in November and was also struck with gastroenteritis and flu ahead of the first Test at Centurion last month.

This has meant Leach has not been able to reach the expected levels of fitness to be considered for selection.

The England medical team, in consultation with Leach, felt to recover fully it would be beneficial for him to return to the United Kingdom. He will leave South Africa on Thursday.

England head coach Chris Silverwood said: “It has been an unfortunate time for Jack with illness and since the Test series in New Zealand six weeks ago, he hasn’t been able to get 100 per cent fit.

“This has hampered his preparation in South Africa and despite his best endeavours he is not in a position to make himself available for selection for the final two Test matches.

“He is a great lad to have around the squad and his infectious personality and popularity will be missed.

"However, his focus has to be getting himself better and receiving the optimum levels of recovery and treatment, which is best served back in England without any distractions.

“I have no doubt that he will return to full fitness in the medium-term and hopefully he will recover in time for our tour of Sri Lanka in March.”

Leach has not played since the first Test in New Zealand in November and will now hope to prove his fitness in time for the tour of Sri Lanka, where he took 16 wickets at 21.38 in England's 3-0 series win in the winter of 2018.

His Somerset teammate, off-spinner Dom Bess, featured in the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town and will hope to retain his place for the third Test in Port Elizabeth, which begins on Thursday.