|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 22nd July 2006
England captain Andrew Flintoff's hopes of returning to international action in next week's second Test against Pakistan suffered a major setback Friday as his ankle injury flared up again.
Flintoff suffered fresh discomfort while playing for his county Lancashire against Kent at Canterbury and is to see a specialist Saturday - just 24 hours before the selectors are due to name their squad for the second Test, which starts on July 27 at the all-rounder's Old Trafford home ground.
The star of England's 2005 Ashes series victory missed last week's first Test draw with Pakistan at Lord's, having begun his comeback with some Twenty20 appearances. But the selectors had said he would have to come through a four-day Championship match first before being recalled to the Test side.
Flintoff had looked on course for that return after the first three days of the Canterbury clash but, after bowling just two overs Friday, he suffered renewed problems.
A statement issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said: "Andrew Flintoff has made good progress with his rehabilitation from an injury to his left ankle. He has worked extremely hard and at every stage of the rehabilitation program has shown improvement.
"However, bowling in a four-day county championship match against Kent was intended as the final test of the progress that he has made.
"Unfortunately, he has experienced some discomfort today (Friday) and he will see a specialist tomorrow (Saturday) to reassess the ankle and future management of the injury.
"A decision as to whether he is available for the second Test against Pakistan will be made following his visit to the specialist tomorrow."
Flintoff bowled 19 overs in Kent's first innings, taking two for 45, but managed just four in total when the hosts batted a second time.
England were captained at Lord's by Andrew Strauss and the opening batsman would be the likeliest candidate to lead the team in the second match of the four-Test series against Pakistan if Flintoff was unavailable.
Strauss's leadership skills were though called into question during the recent 5-0 one-day series rout by Sri Lanka, which Flintoff sat out, and again at Lord's where some observers felt a failure to declare overnight, despite a lead of more than 300, cost England a chance of victory on the last day.
But England had just four frontline bowlers on show at Lord's and, without Flintoff, rarely looked like bowling Pakistan out a second time.
The 28-year-old Flintoff, cemented his status as the world's leading all-rounder by last year scoring 402 runs and taking 24 wickets in England's 2-1 series win over Australia.
Earlier this year he led England to a 1-1 Test series draw away to India and was in charge for the subsequent 1-1 drawn series at home to Sri Lanka.
In the absence of crocked Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan (knee), England have made it clear they want Flintoff to lead the team for the return series in Australia starting in November.
Since the Ashes, England have won just two out of 10 Tests. But several players have been sidelined at various times with injuries and some remain out of action.
As well as Flintoff and Vaughan, England are currently without fast bowler Simon Jones (knee), left-arm spinner Ashley Giles (hip) and reserve paceman James Anderson (back).
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)