Davies on hand to deputise for Prior

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Matt Prior & Steven Davies

England have been assured that Steven Davies, right, can step in for Matt Prior if he remains unfit to play at Centurion

Matt Prior and Stuart Broad are doubtful for tomorrow’s ICC Champions Trophy semi-final against Australia at Centurion.

England will decide upon their participation, for the 15th meeting scheduled between the sides inside three months, on Friday morning.

All-rounder Broad underwent a scan before practice this morning which revealed a minor tear in his left buttock and, although he later bowled at full capacity in the nets at SuperSport Park, he is restricted in certain movements and continues to experience discomfort.

Wicketkeeper Prior, meanwhile, is still not fully recovered from a virus despite returning to training, so Steven Davies has been placed on standby with ICC approval.

“Stuart Broad is struggling a bit but we haven’t ruled him out yet,” said England coach Andy Flower.

“He bowled at full pace in the nets and he was okay bowling, and then we gave him a test running between the wickets and fielding, but he’s not at 100% so we’ll make a decision on him in the morning.”

One option for 23-year-old Broad is to administer a painkilling injection to feature in the day-nighter but Flower appeared reluctant to go down that route.

“We’d take medical advice on him having a jab because we don’t want to damage him further,” said Flower.

Broad was recently rested for the end of the 6-1 NatWest Series defeat because of a knee problem.

Because the tear in the muscle is relatively small, further rest could potentially allow him to play in the final, should England qualify.

Eoin Morgan & Graeme Smith

Eoin Morgan kept competently against South Africa and New Zealand, but England will look to a specialist for the semi-final

“I don’t think we can definitively say that it would be right by Monday but it would be better if we rested him,” Flower said. “It would be a blow to lose him because he is starting to hit his straps as a bowler.

“He came in and wasn’t at his best at the start of the tournament, but watching him bowl in the last game it looks like he’s hitting them again.”

Broad complained of tightness in the buttock during the Group B defeat to New Zealand on Tuesday night, when he claimed four wickets.

Prior, 27, rejoined his colleagues this morning in the nets after missing the last two matches of the tournament.

But Flower warned: “Prior is still struggling a bit actually. He’s had this virus which has actually knocked him quite hard. He practised with us today for the first time but struggled through it.

“We’re not sure whether he is fit enough to take part in a 100-over game and we’d consider replacing him with Steve.

“We stuck with Eoin Morgan for the New Zealand game because it wasn’t a must-win game, but the keeping side of things and taking sharp chances is important.

“We’ve checked with the ICC and they are okay with us making that decision in the morning and getting their permission to change him.”

England avoiding a NatWest Series whitewash in the final match at Chester-le-Street and then boosted their confidence by defeating Group B favourites Sri Lanka and South Africa upon arrival here.

Andy Flower, Ottis Gibson & Andrew Strauss

England's think-tank was initially perturbed by the appearance of the Centurion surface, but remain hopeful for a good pitch

“Obviously we know a lot about Australia because we’ve been playing them all summer and everyone is looking forward to that challenge,” said Flower.

“Certainly that last win was a good one to get in the context of that one-day series and we know we can beat them. The guys are fired up for it.

“We talked about drawing a line under the English summer and starting afresh for the winter when we got here and I think that is what we’ve done.

“It has been evident from some of the performances and we’ve made some slight adjustments in the way we want to approach one-day cricket.

“We’d like to see some of those things happen again against Australia and I think the guys are confident they can do that and win the game.”

The match takes place on a fresh surface, which nevertheless was only prepared this morning and will therefore be something of an unknown quantity.

Flower added: “The pitch didn’t look great this morning when we arrived at the ground but even in the two to three hours we were at the ground it dried out quite a lot. So it could look quite nice for the game.”

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