Australia's beleaguered batting line-up faces fresh problems ahead of their Test series against India with Shaun Marsh struggling for fitness and doubts cast over Shane Watson's opening role.
The top order came in for fierce criticism following Monday's humiliating loss to New Zealand in Hobart after the home side were seemingly on course for victory when 159 for two chasing 241 runs to win.
Australia begin their four-Test series against second-ranked India in Melbourne on December 26 with question marks over the careers of veterans Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey and the team's young batsmen mostly in poor touch.
Neither Marsh nor Watson played in the two-Test series with New Zealand, ranked eighth, which ended 1-1.
Marsh has been ruled out of the second tour match against India in Canberra starting Monday after failing to recover from a back injury and is unlikely to play in the Melbourne Test.
"While we are hopeful, Shaun's chances of recovering sufficiently in order to be considered for the first Test against India are considered unlikely at this stage," said Cricket Australia team performance manager Pat Howard said.
New coach Mickey Arthur urged selectors to make a decision on where injury-prone opener Watson would be in the batting order given the bowling duties heaped on him by captain Michael Clarke.
"It has been speculated about a huge amount," the South African said.
"We have to come to a point where we make a decision where Shane is going to bat in the batting order and how many overs we expect of him so there is no more debate about the issue. "We need to give him a clear role definition before the Boxing Day Test."
Watson, 30, told local media that he is only now close to being fit enough to bat after suffering a hamstring injury, but remained hopeful of playing in the first Test.
"At the moment things are progressing well," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Hopefully if everything continues to go well I'll definitely be fully fit to play on Boxing Day."
Watson said he preferred to remain an opener but it was up to the selectors, who include Clarke, and admitted he would realistically not be able to bowl his seamers until the second Test.
Arthur indicated Watson could be moved down the order to compensate for his bowling workload.
"We have to balance out how many overs we can possibly get out of him -- that is going to determine the balance of the team," Arthur said. "There are a lot of unanswered questions in terms of selection."