England sweat on Pietersen, Prior ahead of Ashes

SYDNEY, (Reuters) – England batsman Kevin Pietersen will travel to Melbourne for a cortisone injection on his troublesome knee today amid concerns about wicketkeeper Matt Prior’s calf ahead of next week’s opening Ashes test.

Pietersen faced just 10 balls on Saturday in the drawn tour match against Australia A in Hobart – his first action since mid-September – but after the injection is expected to play against a New South Wales Invitational XI in Sydney this week. “Kevin has had a slight recurrence of that knee issue, and he’ll be going to Melbourne for a scan and a cortisone injection tomorrow morning,” England coach Andy Flower told reporters in Tasmania. “I don’t think it’s going to be a huge issue. He’s had a couple of these injections before, and they’ve been successful. “They’ve quietened the problem down, and it’s obviously an ongoing issue for him. “But they have been successful, and we anticipate this one being successful and anticipate him playing a full part in the Ashes tour.

“We’re doing the jab tomorrow, so he’s got a little bit of time for the jab to work before we train on Tuesday.”

“We anticipate him playing in the Sydney game.”

LEG PROBLEM

Prior also batted on Saturday, scoring 26, but a lower leg problem prevented him from taking the field with his gloves later on the fourth and final day of the rain-disrupted match.

“He’s tweaked something in his calf,” Flower said. “We’re not sure of the extent of it as yet and we need to let it settle a little before we scan it. “But he didn’t make it much worse. He was off pretty much soon after he tweaked it.

“I don’t think it’s anything too serious and shouldn’t keep him out of the first test, but lets just scan it and then we’ll give you some more information.” Flower was largely satisfied with England’s run-out in Hobart, although he was hoping for better weather in Sydney after more than two days were lost to rain. That hope looked forlorn when heavy rain hit Sydney on Sunday morning but sunshine and blue skies are forecast for Wednesday, when England begin their four-day match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Although England will not name their team until the morning of the first test at the Gabba in Brisbane on Nov. 21, Flower said the batting lineup in Sydney at least would be a strong indicator of their thinking.

“We have got a clear idea and more than likely the top six, or seven if Matt Prior is okay to play the game, will be the same top six or seven we use in Brisbane,” he said.

England are going for a fourth successive Ashes series triumph over the next two months with tests in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney following the Brisbane opener.

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