JAMES Anderson has been ruled out of the Boxing Day Test against South Africa with a calf strain.

Burnley's Anderson underwent scans on a tight right calf muscle on Tuesday morning and they have confirmed he is not fit to feature in the series opener.

England hope their leading Test wicket-taker will be fit for the second match in Cape Town on January 2 but there are no guarantees.

Lancashire pace ace Anderson, 33, joined his team-mates on the outfield on Thursday morning but did not join in a jogging session that kicked off practice.

Instead, Anderson kicked a football with bowling coach Ottis Gibson and it was quickly announced that he was out for the Test.

He will do some light fitness work in the coming days before a stiffer workout during the game to determine his availability.

Warwickshire's Chris Woakes is in line to replace Anderson, having impressed with his pace and control in the early stages of the trip.

He played the last of his four Test matches in August 2014, but is highly regarded and may be considered a safer bet than the uncapped Mark Footitt or Chris Jordan, who has not played on the tour.

When Anderson missed the final two Ashes Tests because of a side strain, Stuart Broad stepped into his shoes as leader of the attack remarkably well as a haul of eight for 15 put England on track to regain the urn.

Head coach Trevor Bayliss, while acknowledging yesterday that losing the spearhead of their attack would be a big blow, is in little doubt Broad will be able to fulfil the role again.

"From Stuart's point of view we've got an obvious replacement as leader of the attack there and I'm sure he would show that he could handle that as he did against Australia in the fourth Test,'' said Bayliss.

"It's always a concern if your leading bowler or leading batter misses a game, but the last time Jimmy missed one we did pretty well so you never know."

England batsman Joe Root was the only other absentee from training at Kingsmead due to an upset stomach.

It is not thought to be a serious issue and there are no concerns about his participation in the Test.