Andy Murray’s influence will be limited to text messages as Great Britain’s Davis Cup team look to show off their improved strength in depth by beating Canada without him.
The quartet of Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund, Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot will take to the court in snowy Ottawa this weekend.
Evans’ heroics in reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open, beating Marin Cilic and Bernard Tomic, have elevated him into the world’s top 50 and a ranking of 45 to Edmund’s 47.
With world number three Milos Raonic having pulled out of the Canadian team with an injury suffered in Australia, the hosts do not have a top-100 player to call on in singles.
Captain Leon Smith had left the door open for Murray but admitted, with the rare chance for a month-long break, the prospects of the world number one playing were always slim at best.
Smith said: “I spent time with him in Miami during December talking about it pretty openly so we always knew it was going to be a challenging one for him to play and it’s the right thing for him to do what he’s doing, stay at home, get some rest after what was an unbelievable three or four months for him and focus on these four here who are really good players.
“We’ve got so much confidence in what they can do.
“We all miss him because he is such a great influence on the team both on and off the court. He obviously gets on really well with the four players here and he is very close to all the support team as well. He will be watching for sure. He will send in messages.
“He watches all of our guys, not just the four here, the ones on the Challenger circuit and the Futures tour and is often feeding back a lot of info.”
Edmund was the hero as Britain defeated Serbia last summer with Murray watching from the sidelines, while the last time they won a tie without the Scot present was in 2013 against Russia when Evans clinched the deciding point.
The hosts seem likely to field former world number 25 Vasek Pospisil, who has been woefully short of form since the start of last season, and 17-year-old Wimbledon junior champion Denis Shapovalov as their singles players.
Canada also have a strong doubles team in Pospisil and evergreen Daniel Nestor, who at 44 is playing in his 50th tie.
Smith said: “I’d imagine we probably would be favourites, but only just. You come to Davis Cup, we’ve had upsets before, we’ve had matches go against us with players that are lower ranked than ours - it happens.
“But what I do know is we’ve got a whole batch of experience across these four players now, they’re very used to the environment of Davis Cup, they’ve been part of it for a very long time now, and all four of these guys will just go out and fight their hearts out.”