Michael Clarke remains in doubt for Australia's must-win clash with host nation India at the Champions Trophy on Sunday.
Clarke, who is suffering from tonsillitis, has returned to light training with the side in the past two days, with Simon Katich on standby should he not pull up.
Katich would move into the middle order for the Australians, with Shane Watson to open alongside vice-captain Adam Gilchrist.
Captain Ricky Ponting said that Clarke's condition had improved after he missed three days of training, but added he would not be fully match fit should he take his spot in the side.
"Michael got through training and did everything he wanted to on Friday," Ponting told The Age. "He has improved fairly dramatically over the last few days but … we'll see how he pulls up."
"He probably won't be 100 percent for the game. We'll keep our fingers crossed and hope that he is, but he's had a week lying around in his hotel room. It's more about just getting acclimatised again, getting back out in the sun and being able to run around a bit."
Meanwhile, injury-ravaged India has suffered another blow ahead of the crucial clash with star batsman Yuvraj Singh ruled out after tearing knee ligaments during training on Saturday.
Singh was playing kho-kho, a running and catching game, when he injured himself, and is expected to be replaced by Mohammad Kaif.
Ponting said the loss of Singh, a nominee for one-day player of the year, swung the match in his side's favour, particularly as his replacement averages just 20 in one-day cricket.
"He has probably been the best one-day player in the past 12 months," Ponting said. "India will miss his batting and probably his fielding too."
The absence of Singh will further test the ranks of the depleted Indians, with paceman Ajit Agarkar already ruled out with a thumb problem, while Munaf Patel has bruising on his wrist.
Patel is expected to play, but Agarkar's spot in the side will be taken by young bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, while Rudra Singh is likely to be omitted for off-spinner Ramesh Powar.
England spinner Ashley Giles has been passed fit to take part in the Ashes Tour of Australia which begins next month.
"It was always my goal to be fit in time for the Ashes tour and now that the moment has arrived I am really looking forward to being part of the Test squad again," Giles said in a statement.
The 33-year-old left-armer was an integral part of the side that won the Ashes in England last year but a series of operations on his hip forced him out of the game for 10 months.
Giles accompanied England's one-day squad to India for the Champions Trophy in order to continue his rehabilitation.
"Ashley has been through a tough time, but he worked extremely hard in India and the medical team is very pleased with the progress he has made," England physiotherapist Kirk Russell said.
"He bowled for extended periods in the nets, completed all the drills we set him without any reaction and is now fully fit and able to take his place in the Ashes squad."
England failed to make it through to the semi-finals of the eight-team Champions Trophy with just one win, against West Indies in their final match.
The first of the five Ashes tests starts on November 23 in Brisbane.
Test opener Matthew Hayden will return from injury on Saturday as Queensland attempts to win its third consecutive one-dayer for the 2006-07 season against Tasmania at Bellerive Oval.
But the Tigers have no plans to go easy on the talented batsman, who has suffered a broken hand and a dog attack since sealing a convincing win over Tasmania last month.
"He's one of the world's best players so it's a great opportunity for ... (one of the young bowlers) to knock him over and put their name up in lights," Tigers captain Dan Marsh said.
"He's a good player but we believe we can get him out if we bowl well."
Hayden and captain Jimmy Maher's partnership sealed a deflating nine-wicket victory for the side at the launch of the domestic season at Brisbane on October 11.
Queensland now leads the Ford Ranger Cup table on 10 points, ahead of Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia on four.
Tigers coach Tim Coyle said the early loss against Queensland had taught his side some vital lessons, pushing the need to ditch the "all guns blazing" approach in favour of more solid starts.
And subsequent wins against Queensland (Pura Cup) and Western Australia had given the side a boost necessary to topple the Bulls' powerhouse of Maher, Hayden and Andy Bichel, he said.
"We think that we've got the bowling attack to dismiss those batters, if not contain them and force an error," he said.
"That's the way we'll be looking at it but we won't be focussing on one of those players, we've got to beat Queensland."
Coyle did not give away any secrets on the side's Hayden attack, saying simply: "We think we know where to bowl to him".
Tasmanian batsman Michael Bevan will miss the side's first home game of the season after failing to pass his fitness test due to a hip flexor strain.
He will be replaced by rookie Dane Anderson.
Both Hayden and fast bowler Ashley Noffke will return from injury for the Bulls.
Noffke was sidelined after he opened the bowling to take 3-30 in the Bulls season-opening win over the Tigers.
Scans have already cleared him of a second bout of stress fractures, which he sustained in 2004-05.
Once again England are nervous about injuries, especially those concerning captain Andrew Flintoff. His still not 100%
England fretting over Freddie
By Malcolm Conn
November 08, 2006
ENGLAND has admitted that its brilliant all rounder Andrew Flintoff will not be the imposing force he was in its Ashes success last year.
Coach Duncan Fletcher claimed yesterday that England would be forced to play an extra bowler to cover for Flintoff, exposing a long tail which could prove costly in the five-Test series.
Captain for this tour in place of the injured Michael Vaughan, Flintoff was England's leading bowler and man of the series in last year's triumph with 24 wickets and 402 runs.
But the burley Lancashire lad has bowled just five competitive overs since ankle surgery in July and has a maximum of just seven days of lead-up match practice before the first Test begins in Brisbane on November 23.
"Obviously the big factor is Flintoff," Fletcher said at England's team hotel in Sydney yesterday. "How many overs he can bowl and how we can get the balance of the side right.
"We've got to look at five bowlers, especially with Flintoff and the workload that he takes on. If we knew we were confident with him getting in a lot of overs, we could probably look at four bowlers. But with Flintoff not bowling many (overs) we've got to go in with five bowlers."
Flintoff having to bat at No.6 means England is in the position of having to leave out a batsman who is performing.
"There are some issues that are going to be pretty difficult for us," Fletcher said.
"We're going to have to leave one of our fabulous young batters out to get the right balance of the side. That's going to be a very difficult decision."
The competition is between the improved Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood and impressive youngster Alastair Cook, who smashed a double century for Essex in a tour match against Australia last year.
The trio has been among England's leading batsmen since the Ashes, all averaging 48 or better.
Remarkably Fletcher, who has enormous power as a selector, is considering playing defensive left-arm wrist spinner Ashley Giles ahead of the more attacking left-arm spinner Monty Panesar.
"We want a bowler who has control because we don't think the (pitch) in Brisbane will really turn," Fletcher said.
"It's mainly a seamer's track so we've got to have a look at the control we need from a spinner."
This means the conservative Fletcher wants Giles to tie up one end while the fast bowlers attack from the other.
Fletcher also considers Giles important because he is a better tailend batsman than Panesar. The more experienced Giles, who has not played for a year because of injury, has a batting average of 20 compared to Panesar's 10.
"That's the thing we've got to look at over the next couple of games we play," Fletcher said about the length of England's tail.
This could mean another change of wicketkeeper, with neither Australian-raised Geraint Jones nor Chris Read grasping the chance to cement a place in the team.
Read is regarded as the better gloveman, averaging a modest 20 with just one half-century from 13 Tests. However Jones has averaged just 19 since the Ashes.
The England selectors wanted to pay each player half the regular contracted amount.
The England and Wales Cricket Board rejected the idea, leaving the tourists without a contracted keeper.
"We've got to look at this whole side at the moment," Fletcher said. "That's one area we've got to look at with this batting line-up. We have to consider how we're going to balance that side, depending on the strength of the tail."
England batsman Ian Bell is in doubt to play in the first Ashes Test against Australia because of a wrist injury.
Bell was struck in the left wrist today while batting in the nets by a delivery from teammate James Anderson and underwent ice treatment afterwards.
Bell, who will bat in the vital No.3 position in the series, which starts at the Gabba on Thursday, was treated by England staff at training and will have an x-ray later today to check the severity of the injury. England can ill-afford another departure from its top order, as captain Michael Vaughan is certain to miss most of the series as he recovers from knee surgery, while Marcus Trescothick has already flown home with depression.
The tourists hope to elevate Bell to first drop to cover for the loss of Trescothick.
But if Bell is ruled out, he will be replaced by debutant Ed Joyce, who has only been with the squad for a week after he replaced Trescothick in the touring party.
Also, Michael Vaughan might play in the Ashes. He had knee surgery in July but is a chance of playing one of the later tests.
Only 2 days to go!!!!! I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Michael Vaughn suffered a hamstring injury yesterday. Fortunatly, he'll only miss 1 match.