Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley's recovery from a shoulder injury is taking long than expected, confirmed England head coach Stuart Lancaster.
England are down to the bare bones in the number two jersey, with Hartley injured, Tom Youngs unable to tour with David Paice also out and Rob Webber on the road to recovery.
Webber was called into the England camp for further assessment before the squad fly out to New Zealand next Tuesday.
Should he not recover in time, Lancaster admitted that one of the untested prospects including Dave Ward and Luke Cowan-Dickie may win an opportunity against the All Blacks.
"Dylan, as you've heard from (Northampton director of rugby) Jim Mallinder, is making slower progress than hoped for with his shoulder," said Lancaster.
"We'll monitor that with Northampton throughout the week and make a decision on him before we fly (next Tuesday). We'll wait and see how it plays out.
"With Tom Youngs, Dylan and David Paice out of the equation, if Dylan isn't going to be fit and Webber is 50/50, there will definitely be an opportunity for a hooker without much experience."
Lancaster was less concerned however over the fitness of full-back Mike Brown, who limped off in Harlequins semi-final defeat to Saracens on Saturday.
"Mike won't train this week, but we're quite optimistic that he will be training next week. We fly on Tuesday," added Lancaster.
"So I don't think there will be any concern over him going into the first Test."