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England fearful over KP's Ashes fitness

England are worried that key top order batsman Kevin Pietersen, who missed the ICC World Twenty20's opening match against Netherlands due to recurring injury, may struggle to be fit for this season's Ashes series at home to Australia.

cricket Updated: Jun 08, 2009 16:22 IST

England are worried that key top order batsman Kevin Pietersen may struggle to be fit for this season's Ashes series at home to Australia.

The ex-England captain was ruled out shortly before the start of the side's humbling four-wicket loss to the Netherlands in Friday's opening match of the ICC World Twenty20 at Lord's with a recurrence of the injury he first sustained in the Caribbean earlier this year.

Pietersen has undergone an injection in a bid to make sure the South Africa born shotmaker is fit for England's match against Pakistan at the Oval on Sunday - a game they effectively have to win if they are to get through to the Super Eight second stage of the World Twenty20.

But England coach Andy Flower believes Pietersen may need several months rest to regain full fitness - and if that is the case he would miss the first Ashes opener in Cardiff starting on July 8 and possibly the entire Test series as well.

"They are terrible injuries," said former Zimbabwe batsman Flower. "I had an Achilles problem for about five years when I was playing and they are very difficult to get rid of.

"They can hang around for a long time and with our schedule you don't get huge chunks of time off. I think you need months off to get rid of those sort of problems altogether."

England are currently without all-rounder Andrew Flintoff - like Pietersen one of the stars of their 2005 home Ashes series win - and the loss of another key player would be a major blow.

Flower stressed he'd been given the all-clear to play Pietersen, saying he would have withdrawn him had that been the opinion of team medics.

"Leading up to this tournament, I specifically asked for the medical advice on that because if it had suggested we rest him during this period leading up to five Test matches against Australia, we would have done so," said Flower.

"The medical advice was that we didn't need to do that and they could manage it through a Twenty20 tournament, but I don't necessarily think that advice was wrong because these injuries are very difficult to manage and having a three-week rest might not necessarily do the business."

Meanwhile Flower said he believed fast bowler Stuart Broad had the strength of character to bounce back from his nightmare display against the Dutch.

Broad dropped a return catch and missed three run-out opportunities in a last over where the Dutch won with a two off the final ball following the bowler's wayward shy at the stumps.

"I won't need to do much to pick Stuart Broad up," said Flower. "He's a strong man and he'll pick himself up.

"He had a few chances at the start of the over with one catch and two run-outs and then he had another run-out chance at the end, but Stuart is brilliant under pressure.

"For a young man I think he's been an outstanding international cricketer when he bats, when he fields, when he bowls."

First Published: Jun 08, 2009 16:17 IST