Gough, 27, England's leading bowler since the decline of Dominic Cork, had hoped to be fit for the third Test in Guyana at the end of next month. But continuing problems with his hamstring ruled him out of that match and now hopes of him playing in the final two matches, in Barbados and Antigua, appear far-fetched.
His condition will not be reassessed for another four weeks following minor surgery to relieve pressure on the hamstring tendon and improve its circulation for a more permanent recovery.
``I'm itching to get back into action and to give 100 per cent for both England and Yorkshire, and I'm extremely optimistic this operation will help me do just that,'' said Gough. ``I've not set myself any dates, but my sole ambition is to get back into competitive cricket as soon as possible.''
Gough was in pain again last week and had just one net session under the cautious eye of former Yorkshire captain Martyn Moxon.
As Yorkshire physio Wayne Morton is already with the England team in the Caribbean, Gough has been working with Morton's assistant, Carol Becker, in the treatment room and with Moxon in the nets.
Moxon said last night: ``The difficulty with Darren is holding him back. He is keen to bowl as fast as he can and can't wait to get involved with the England team again. He's kicking his heels and feeling frustrated at the moment but, given time, he'll be back to his best.''
David Graveney, chairman of the England selectors, remains hopeful. ``With the tour of the West Indies continuing until the second week of April, Darren still retains a realistic chance of joining the touring party,'' he said. ``And that possibility, providing he regains full fitness, should be a major incentive for him during his rehabilitation.''
Gough took 16 wickets in four Ashes Test last summer, including five for 149 at his Headingley home. But he missed the last two matches at Trent Bridge and the Oval, and although selected to lead the England attack in West Indies, he withdrew on New Year's Eve because of his persistent injury.
Gough said last week: ``Five months is the longest I've been out through injury. And it's so frustrating. But my problem is I try to come back too quickly. I hate not playing. I love the game so much and I try to come back quick, quick, quick.
``Fast bowling is hard work. When I'm bowling for my country I'm bowling 20 overs an innings. Then I go back and play for my county. People have got to understand that I'm going to get injured. Angus Fraser and Andy Caddick have both missed two years through injury.''
Gough was speaking on Channel 5's Live and Dangerous before his latest setback, and repeated his threat to quit the game if he could not recover his best form. ``The only reason I'd quit is if I couldn't play to the same standard as I can now.
``If I couldn't, and I wasn't myself, I wouldn't be able to cut down my pace and just say I'd be satisfied to play county cricket for another two years to drag on for the salary I get. I wouldn't do that. I want to be the best at what I do and if I couldn't then there would be no point in playing.''