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Prior to miss tour game

Matt Prior has been ruled out of England's tour match against an Australia Invitational XI this week with a calf problem.

Jonny Bairstow will replace him in the side but England remain optimistic that Prior will be fit in time for the first Ashes Test, in Brisbane from November 21.

“Matt Prior has been ruled out of the tour game starting on Wednesday with a low-grade tear of his left calf,'' an ECB spokesman said. “He will continue his rehab and recovery with a view to being picked for the first Test.''

The wicketkeeper-batsman used Twitter to express his determination to be back in time for the first Test.

Like Prior, Kevin Pietersen has had a scan. But with the start of the Ashes only 10 days away, it seems the recurrence of Pietersen's problem with bone bruising in his right knee is not going to disrupt his preparation.

Pietersen took a small part in indoor training today at the SCG, where pouring rain stopped England using the outdoor facilities.

Ian Bell was able to confirm his fellow batsman is back on track, having diverted to Melbourne yesterday - while his team-mates headed direct from Hobart to Sydney - to have a cortisone injection and his scan.

Asked how Pietersen is, and his chances of playing in the four-day match starting on Wednesday, Bell replied: “Really well.

“I don't know the XI. But I'd have thought he's definitely up for selection, and would have thought he'll play.''

On Prior’s unavailability this week, Bell said: "I suppose it's not ideal, but it gives a good opportunity to Jonny Bairstow.

"We've seen in the past how important it is to get the whole of the squad playing cricket before the series starts - because you just never know, with five Tests to come."

Bell added: "It's disappointing ... Matt is a key part of our success over the last few years, and obviously we want him to recover as quickly as possible."

As for Prior’s prospects of playing in the first Test, Bell is more optimistic.

"There's still a bit of time. Matt's got himself in fantastic condition for this tour, and he'll be very good with his rehab,” he said.

"I've got every faith that he'll be fully-fit for Brisbane. But it's good for Jonny, in this game, to get out there with the gloves on in an England shirt."

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