GARY Ballance is poised to miss the start of Yorkshire's county campaign as he prioritises his mental health, according to the club's interim managing director of cricket Darren Gough.

Ballance, who featured in 23 Tests for England between 2014 and 2017, came under enormous scrutiny last November as he confessed to using racist language towards former Yorkshire team-mate Azeem Rafiq.

While Ballance was suspended indefinitely from England selection as part of the sanctions handed down for Yorkshire's mishandling of Rafiq's racism claims, Gough revealed the batter will stay at the club.

It is hoped Ballance will return to the fray at some point over the summer but Gough is adamant there will be no pressure on a player who had time out of the game in 2020 due to anxiety and stress.

"He's still a Yorkshire player," Gough told the PA news agency. "He's off with his mental health, he's struggled with that in the past as well.

"The best thing I can ask as managing director of cricket is people give him that space and privacy. It's a very difficult time for him.

"We will support him in any way possible to hopefully, sometime this season, represent Yorkshire again. He needs time away from the game at this moment in time and I'm here to support him."

Meanwhile, the ECB have confirmed that England captain Joe Root is also set to miss the opening rounds of the Championship season, as they will not be making him available to play for Yorkshire.