England await Flintoff news
England are waiting on the results of Andrew Flintoff's visit to a knee specialist today to determine whether he can be part of their plans for the Ashes decider at the Brit Oval.
The 31-year-old Lancashire all-rounder missed England's desperate defeat by an innings and 80 runs at Headingley Carnegie with persistent knee trouble, Australia levelling the npower series at 1-1 and setting up an exciting finale on August 20.
England's performance made Flintoff’s presence at the Oval, where he is due to make his final Test appearance, all the more pressing and leaves the selectors anxiously waiting for a verdict from specialist Andy Williams.
"We have to find out the fitness of Freddie and where he is at and then obviously the balance of the side is an issue as well," said captain Andrew Strauss.
"Those are all issues that we have to throw into the melting pot and make sure we're clear on which direction we need to go in come that final Test match."
Strauss and England are anxious to avoid a repeat of the situation before the Headingley Test, when Flintoff was ruled out on the morning of the match and left them frantically considering other options.
But they believe the two weeks between his last England appearance at Edgbaston and the Oval should enable all parties to make an earlier decision - providing the specialist does not insist Flintoff has an immediate operation to cure the problem.
"Hopefully we're in a better situation to get a result earlier for the final Test," said Strauss.
"On the back of Edgbaston it was impossible to know too far out from the last Test whether he would be fit enough and it was unfortunate he wasn't quite fit enough.
"It will involve constant monitoring from the medical team again about how he's feeling, his state of mind is going to be important as well, and hopefully we'll know two or three days out from the Test match whether he's fit enough to play or not."
Flintoff is not the only fitness issue troubling England with fellow Lancashire seamer James Anderson having sustained a hamstring strain at Headingley, although it is not expected to put him in doubt for the decider.
But Strauss is also keen to resist the inevitable calls for radical changes to England's line-up and believes both he and the selectors need to consider their options carefully.
"All I would say is it's time for calm reflection and selection should be based in a calm, reflective manner," he added.
"Whatever decision we come to, hopefully we've thought through it carefully and we picked the right 11 to win the Test.