Great Britain captain Leon Smith admits his team face a daunting task as they take on Spain in the Davis Cup without Australian Open semi-finalist Kyle Edmund.
Edmund struggled with a minor hip problem during his last-four defeat to Marin Cilic, a result that halted his stunning run in Melbourne.
And although the world number 26 had expressed hope he would still be able to lead Britain’s team in their first round World Group tie in Marbella, he was not named as one of the singles players in Thursday’s draw.
Smith told the Davis Cup website: “When he got here we were thinking it’s going to be difficult for him for a number of reasons – the niggles, aches and pains, the travel, change of surface – but as each day went by he got more and more confident with where he was at, but you’ve got to be sensible in this situation.
“There was just too much of a risk to select him for Friday’s matches but we’ll assess it each day and hopefully he can play a part at some point over the weekend.”
Smith therefore opted to hand Davis Cup debuts to Liam Broady and Cameron Norrie, with world number 165 Broady taking on 21st-ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the opening rubber on Friday.
Norrie, who is ranked 114th, then faces world number 23 Roberto Bautista Agut at Club de Tenis Puente Romano.
Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot are set to face to Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez in Saturday’s doubles.
“There aren’t too many more difficult tests,” Smith added. “Any of the teams in the World Group would struggle here because of the strength in depth and the surface, but I think it’s brilliant for Cam and Liam to go out there and play with pride and passion and get involved in the match and show what they can do and learn from it no matter what the result.”
Spain are playing at home for the first time since 2013 and have won a remarkable 27 of their last 28 ties on clay.
New captain Sergi Bruguera said: “With Kyle Edmund not playing their possibilities go down a little bit. But in Davis Cup we have to have respect for all the players – Cameron Norrie and Liam Broady are good players.
“Broady made the semi-finals at a Challenger last week so he’s in good shape and in the Davis Cup anything can happen. We have to be focused.”
The two nations have not met in the Davis Cup since 1986, when Britain won 4-1 at the same stage of the competition in Telford.