There are serious concerns over the fitness of Andrew Flintoff after he picked up an ankle injury during the third Test against Sri Lanka. He admitted struggling through the match and was unable to bowl during England's brief stint in the field on the fourth morning. England have delayed naming their one-day squad until a further assessment on his condition has been made, but Duncan Fletcher has already said it would be a bonus if Flintoff played.
He went for a scan following the third day's play - when he'd bowled off a shortened run and at reduced pace - and he is now waiting on the advice of specialists. At the post-match presentation he told Sky Sports: "I struggled through this game and have got a little bit of soreness. I went for a scan yesterday which showed some bone fragments around the ankle."
Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, admits it's a major worry: "It has got to be a concern because he is such a major player for us; also he helps get the balance of the side right. When it comes to the one-dayers I have sat for two days with [assistant coach] Matthew Maynard and a few of the players thinking about how we can balance the side.
"How do we add five players to the squad which allow us batting depth and still have quality bowlers who can knock sides over? We have also got to have a look at whether Fred can play just as a batter. There are a whole lot of permutations which are difficult to answer at the moment."
Last year Flintoff had surgery on the same left ankle and was nursed back into full bowling action ahead of the Ashes. "It's around the same area they have found these fragments," Flintoff said following England's 134-run defeat at Trent Bridge. "Whether they have been there all along or they are new, we're not sure. It's up to the specialists to look at the scans and then we'll have more of an idea what to do."
If surgery is required, the England management will want to give Flintoff as much time as possible ahead of the Ashes to recover and if there is any doubt he will surely be left out of the one-day squad. With Michael Vaughan only just beginning his comeback, Flintoff was expected to be named captain but that might now be handed to Andrew Strauss or Marcus Trescothick. England will also have to watch the fitness of Kevin Pietersen, who suffered a grade one hamstring tear in the final Test.