Pietersen in fitness struggle for crucial third Ashes Test

ENGLAND face an anxious wait to see whether key batsman Kevin Pietersen will be fit to withstand another battle with Australia in next week’s third Ashes Test.

The historic 115-run victory at Lord’s, their first Ashes win at that venue since 1934, established a 1-0 lead in the series with three Tests remaining, but has potentially come at a high price. Hampshire batsman Pietersen struggled through that Test win with a recurrence of Achilles problems and remains the biggest concern for England as they prepare to select their squad this weekend for the third Test at Edgbaston.

But England will also check on all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who bowled through the discomfort of a troublesome right knee, while Durham seamer Graham Onions suffered an elbow injury which ruled him out of the attack on the final day at Lord’s.

Both Flintoff and Onions are expected to be fit enough to feature at Edgbaston, with their recovery aided by a week’s rest, but Pietersen’s chances of participating in Birmingham cannot be assured.

“He’s been struggling quite badly with that Achilles injury,” admitted England coach Andy Flower. “It’s an uncomfortable injury to have, especially in a Test match.

“You’re always on your feet, if you bat for any period of time you’re scampering between the wickets and you feel it all the time – there’s no getting away from it.”

Meanwhile, Australia must revive their bowling attack, with Brett Lee doubtful and Mitchell Johnson downbeat.

Lee, 32, missed the first two Tests after incurring a side strain and has not bowled since while Johnson was woefully off colour at Lord’s, where his match figures were three for 200.

Australia, whose players have been given two days off after the loss, face Northamptonshire in a tour match starting on Friday, a fixture in which they hope to field both men.

But, of Lee, coach Tim Nielsen cautiously said: “We’ve got to be careful we don’t go down the wrong path, we’ve got three Tests left in this series and that’s a lot of cricket.

“We just need to make sure that we don’t rush him back too quickly with the result being that he’s not quite right and puts himself out for the rest of the series.”

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