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Flintoff raring to go, Punter backs Johnson

cricket Updated: Jul 29, 2009 23:11 IST

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Andrew Flintoff emerged unscathed from a fitness test ahead of the third Ashes Test after sleeping with his troublesome right knee strapped in a special compression machine to aid the healing process.

Though, heavy rain left the venue outfield covered in pools of water, hopes are high that the Test will indeed start as scheduled with Flintoff ready to play.

And, despite speculation that his sore knee will not withstand the strains imposed by back-to-back Tests, Flintoff said he would also be fit for next week’s fourth Test at Headingley.

“After the Lord’s Test my knee was a bit sore but I’ve been icing it and getting treatment from [the Lancashire physio] Dave Roberts,” he said.

“After every session I’ve been icing it and now I have this machine that I put on the knee every night. It gets in the way a little bit. It wraps around my knee and it compresses it, half an hour on, half an hour off, throughout the night.

“I said before the Lord’s Test that we had four to go and I intended to play every one of them. I played back-to-back Test matches last week and I fully intend doing the same this week.” “He’s fine at this stage,” said a team spokesman. “There are no dramas from his training session. We’ll see how he responds in the morning.”

Australia, meanwhile, finally appear to have accepted Brett Lee will not be fit for the Test after he bowled off only a few steps in the nets.

"I don't think Brett is going to be right for Thursday," said vice-captain Michael Clarke on Tuesday. "He is doing a lot of fitness work and I am not sure exactly how far away he is, but I think he is out of contention for Thursday,” he added.

Australia to stick with Johnson

Australia are likely to keep faith with struggling fast bowler Mitchell Johnson for the third Test. But Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he was planning to give the left-arm quick a different role to the one he’d played in the series.

“There has been a lot of talk about his technique and his action being all over the place,” Ponting said. “We have had some close looks at that and it is actually not. I think right at the moment it is more of a confidence thing and we will probably look at him in this game playing in a different way than I have in the last couple of games and use him more as a strike impact type of bowler.”