Joe Root says the whole England squad is throwing its full support behind Ben Stokes after the "horrible" news of his father being hospitalised in a critical condition.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed Stokes' father Ged has been admitted to hospital with a serious illness in Johannesburg and the all-rounder will be at his bedside while his team-mates train at SuperSport Park on Tuesday.
England is preparing for a four-match Test series against the Proteas and captain Root was saddened by the news affecting his deputy.
"It is horrible to hear," Root said to BBC Sport .
"The ECB have put a statement out so as far as we are concerned we can't give any more information.
"We just want to throw all our support behind him and his family and just stress the importance of trying to respect their privacy at this time.
"But it is really sad news and we are all there for him."
Root confirmed he did not know if Stokes would be able to play the first Test, which starts on Thursday.
"No [idea] and it would be wrong to go into that now," the batsman added.
"The support, that he is there with his family, that comes first. We will have to wait and see but most importantly we are all there for Ben and the rest of his family."
Chris Woakes has been the latest England player to be struck down with illness and will, along with Stokes, miss training on Tuesday.
"He wasn't very well at all on Monday," explained Root. "These things happen unfortunately and we will try to manage as best we can."
Stuart Broad, Jack Leach and Jofra Archer missed England's warm-up games with illness and the team had already called up Craig Overton and Dom Bess as additional cover before the developments on Stokes and Woakes.
As things stand, James Anderson, Overton and Sam Curran are the only pace bowlers who are definitely available for the opener.
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