Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Melbourne December 24, 2008

Symonds struggles with knee injury

Cricinfo staff

Andrew Symonds was unable to bowl in the second innings in Perth due to a knee problem © Getty Images

Injury concerns over Andrew Symonds and Shane Watson have hampered Australia's lead-up to the Boxing Day Test against South Africa. Watson suffered a back problem at training on Wednesday and left the nets for medical attention, although he later returned to bat.

Symonds is battling a knee injury that also affected him in the Perth Test, where he bowled three overs in the first innings but was unable to bowl in the second. Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, said he was unsure if Symonds would be fit to play in Melbourne.

"It's really a day-to-day thing with him at the moment," Ponting told the Australian. "He went into the game okay and bowled in the first innings but couldn't really bowl after his second over. He got through his second over and that was it. He got better on days three and four and limped about on day five. It's one of those things that comes and goes a little bit.

"We'll just have to see how he is on the morning of the game. If we bowl first, I'll just have to put it on him and see if he can bowl his medium pacers or not. Obviously, on the last day of the Perth game that's the reason he didn't bowl, because of his knee. We'll just have to keep a pretty close eye on him."

Symonds trained lightly on Wednesday and if he was unavailable, Australia would be keen to include Watson - assuming he himself was fit - as a replacement allrounder. The opener Matthew Hayden said losing Symonds from the line-up would be a major blow.

"I think Symo is at the moment in reasonable shape," Hayden said. "He has got a sore knee but they're urging on the fact that things will calm down over a number of days. That's what he's hoping anyway. Symo in our side just adds a great characteristic and flavour in our side as well so we really want him to get up."