Australia could make a decision tonight on whether to risk injured skipper Michael Clarke in their Champions Trophy opener against England on Saturday.Clarke is a major doubt for the match having aggravated a long-standing back problem after arriving in the United Kingdom from Australia last week.The 32-year-old left the team's training camp yesterday to undergo treatment in London and Australia physiotherapist Alex Kountouris admitted Clarke was "in a race against time" to be fit to play England at Edgbaston.Clarke's place in the short tournament could also be under threat with Kountouris admitting the right-hander was suffering pain from the problem, which flared while he was batting in the nets last week."We're hoping to make a decision on him reasonably quickly," Kountoris told Cricket Australia's website."He's been in London since yesterday to do the treatment that he usually gets. There's some equipment there that we use."We are trying to maximise the time he has got over there so sometime tonight or tomorrow we'll make that decision (whether he plays against England)."Australia will attempt to claim a hat-trick of Champions Trophy successes over the next fortnight; however, their ultimate goal this summer is the Ashes.With the first Test at Trent Bridge just over a month away Kountouris admitted Australia would not take any unnecessary risks with their captain."We are just trying to get him right. He has had this before so we know how it plays out and we know the treatment that he needs to get him right," he said.
"But being such a short tournament we're racing against time to get him fit."We certainly won't be taking any risks. This is an important tournament as well and he'll be a big part of the decision-making process."It is a really important time of the year for us, that goes without saying."This is an important tournament too so we'll get him up for whatever games we can and won't take any stupid risks."Unfortunately he's had this several times so we know where he needs to be. Firstly he needs to be pain free, which he's not at the moment."Then we need to put him through a series of tests, get him running and batting and get him doing things he'd normally do. We need him training at full intensity before we get him on the park."It is the second time this year that the injury has flared up after Clarke was forced home early from Australia's 4-0 Test series defeat at the hands of India.The New South Welshman was first diagnosed with the problem as a teenager but until this year has been largely able to cope with the problem."He gets little tiny setbacks and we manage them and they get better in a day or two days," Kountouris said."We're just hoping this is no different. He was disappointed when it first happened but he's a pretty resilient guy and he is just focused on what he has to do."He's really motivated and professional about how he goes about about his rehab."Asked if the long flight from Australia had caused the problem, Kountouris added: "No. It was just when we started training here he felt a bit stiff."It was only when we got over here. He was pretty good back in Australia. He'd done all the training camps and did quite well."It's just one of those things; hard to know what the cause of it is. He was just batting in the nets and just felt it."