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Page last updated at 15:05 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 16:05 UK

Lee doubtful for Edgbaston Test

Brett Lee
Lee has endured a frustrating absence from the side

Paceman Brett Lee will miss Australia's tour match at Northampton and will struggle to be fit enough to play in the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston.

Lee was sidelined for the first two Tests against England after injuring his side in Australia's final warm-up match against the England Lions.

With Ricky Ponting's side trailing 1-0 in the series, the tourists had hoped to include Lee against Northants.

But he was restricted to stretching and jogging exercises on Thursday.

His team-mates will be skippered by Michael Hussey, with Ponting, Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin all rested.

Australia spent the day preparing in the nets to face their hosts - currently fifth in County Championship Division Two - in a three-day match starting on Friday, with the third Test following on 30 July.

Lee was the most impressive Australian bowler against the Lions, and in the 32-year-old pace bowler's absence his team-mates were unable to take 20 wickets in either of the first two Tests.

BBC Sport's Oliver Brett

Australia also have concerns over the form of Mitchell Johnson and will field a team dominated by seam bowlers at Northampton. Johnson will be trying to make an impression with Australia's on-duty selector Jamie Cox after disappointing in the Tests so far.

He will be joined by all-rounders Andrew McDonald and Shane Watson, and probably seamer Stuart Clark. Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and Nathan Hauritz are also in the 12-man squad for the match, but one is likely to be rested.

Hussey said of Johnson: "He seems comfortable and was focused at training. Him and [bowling coach] Troy Cooley are very clear on what they need to work on.

"Hopefully he can come into the game in a good frame of mind and clear on what he wants to work on and can get his confidence right up for the next Test.

Bell is a quality player, who has played very well for England before. We're going to give him the same respect we give all the England batsmen

Michael Hussey

"I don't want to bowl him into the ground as there is just over a week until the third Test starts. I don't want him punching out 25-30 overs in an innings or anything like that. I'll communicate with him and see how he's feeling, and also take into account the situation of the game."

Hussey said Australia's prospects of retaining the Ashes had received a boost with the news England batsman Kevin Pietersen would miss the remainder of the series after undergoing Achilles surgery.

"It's a big loss for the England team, he has been a quality batsman for a long period of time," Hussey said.

"They are definitely going to miss him. He's played well against Australia and is probably the lynchpin in that batter order. To not have him there has got to be a plus for us.

But he also warned that his likely understudy Ian Bell should not be underestimated, despite his struggles in Ashes cricket to date.

"Bell is a quality player, who has played very well for England before. We're going to give him the same respect we give all the England batsmen."

He said it would be dangerous to write off Bell's ability to make an impact in the remainder of the series, adding: "Any sport, and particularly cricket, has a way of coming back and biting you from behind if you make those calls."

Australia squad for Northampton match: Phillip Hughes, Simon Katich, Michael Hussey (capt), Marcus North, Shane Watson, Andrew McDonald, Graham Manou (wkt), Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Stuart Clark, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Hauritz.

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see also
Watson makes case for Ashes spot
24 Jul 09 |  Northants
Sledging edict 'blunts Aussies'
23 Jul 09 |  Australia
Bell can shine in Ashes - Vaughan
22 Jul 09 |  England
England without Pietersen
22 Jul 09 |  England
Pietersen to miss rest of Ashes
22 Jul 09 |  England
I can complete series - Flintoff
21 Jul 09 |  England
Flintoff inspires England victory
20 Jul 09 |  England
Injured Lee to miss Ashes opener
06 Jul 09 |  Australia
Lee shines but Australia struggle
02 Jul 09 |  Australia
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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