Alastair Cook insisted Kevin Pietersen would not be rushed back into the England side just because his absence was keenly felt during the Twenty20 World Cup.
Pietersen returned to South Africa on Wednesday having met with Cook and other England players as part of his agreed programme of reintegration into the national team. The flamboyant batsman has not played for England since the text message affair erupted at the end of the summer Test series against South Africa.
Although he conceded time was running out given England leave for India next Thursday, Cook stressed it was more important to make the right decision than a quick decision. He said: "It is important we don't rush this process so we get the best opportunity of that. We want all our world-class players playing for England."
Cook added: "We have got to get it right. It is a very important decision for the sake of the England team moving forward. We have got to be thorough."
Cook said England's performance at the Twenty20 World Cup had not strengthened his resolve to get Pietersen back involved.
But he conceded the side, led by Stuart Broad, had missed some experienced heads.
Pietersen was not considered for selection while the likes of Cook, Matthew Prior and James Anderson do not feature in England's Twenty20 plans.
"If we are being totally honest, sometimes the inexperience probably showed in certain circumstances (in Sri Lanka)," Cook said.
"As a side you are always looking for your senior players to step up to the mark and the senior players weren't there."