Broad left the field when the problem flared up on his left heel after bowling just one over for his county Nottinghamshire against Leicestershire last month, putting his participation in the first Test in doubt.
Ballance returns to the worldwide stage after being absent since last October and will come in at the fall of the first wicket, with Joe Root dropping down a place to number four in his first Test as captain and Jonny Bairstow at five.
The match, which will be Joe Root's first game after being announced as England's Test captain following Alastair Cook's decision to step down will also see the return of Gary Ballance to the starting XI.
After winning the ODI and T20I series against the Proteas, England will miss the services of Chris Woakes and Jake Ball as the two are yet to recover from injuries.
Speaking to Sky Sports Dawson said: "You've always got an opportunity, when you play it's a chance to do well and impress and that's what I'll be looking to try and do".
Five more runs for Cook will make him the third player after former Indian batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid to record scores of 1000+ against seven different oppositions. It's pulled up really well.
Root will end his long wait to lead the side out on Thursday, almost four months after he was appointed England's Test skipper and replaced his long-serving predecessor Alastair Cook.
"Joe is an attacking cricketer and aggressive when he plays, so I think the team will take that sort of shape".
He told Sky Sports: 'Gary has been in great form this summer and we know he can do it in worldwide cricket. "I think it will be an exciting series to watch", he concluded.
If Dawson does play against South Africa it will beef up the England batting with the four specialist seamers in the squad not the best with the willow in hand.