Radio 5 Live Sports Extra/Test Match Special podcast: Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer discuss Australia's options
Hughes played with Ponting in the last Ashes series in England last year
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has backed Phillip Hughes as the most likely replacement for Simon Katich for next week's third Ashes Test in Perth.
Opener Katich has an Achilles injury and has almost certainly been ruled out of the rest of the Ashes series.
But Ponting admitted no decisions have yet been made about the squad for the next Test, which starts on 16 December.
"Phil Hughes is the first one that comes to mind. I'd be surprised if it's not him that comes in," he said.
"We know what his international record is like. He's got a few runs under his belt so he's probably the first cab off the rank.
"I'm not a selector. The chairman of selectors and I haven't spoken yet. I'm not sure what they're thinking. We'll have a good discussion."
Hughes, the New South Wales opener, arrived on the international scene with a
century in each innings against South Africa
in only his second Test appearance in March 2009.
He remained in the side at the start of last year's Ashes series in England but was dropped after scores of 36, 4 and 17 in the first two Tests.
The 22-year-old last played Test cricket in March when his unbeaten 86 in the second innings helped Australia to a
over New Zealand in Wellington.
More recently, he made 81 for
Australia A against England
last month but despite that, he was not among the 17 players named in an initial squad for the current series.
Ponting has also backed his team to recover from their crushing defeat by an innings and 71 runs to England in the
second Test in Adelaide,
which gave the tourists a 1-0 lead in the series.
"At the end of the day whatever 11 players are selected I expect they can do the job for Australia," added Ponting.
"This week they haven't done that. It's about finding the attitude, because I know the ability is there to get the job done."
suffered the injury in Adelaide
and faces at least a month on the sidelines.
He admitted he was devastated by the way his Ashes series has ended.
"I'm obviously very disappointed. It will be hard not being a part of it," he said.
"Obviously in the field I was battling to move around so it didn't come as a huge surprise when I found out the results of the scans.
"I'm very disappointed with two games into the series to not be able to have a chance to try to turn things around with the team."
But he believes there will be enough talent for the selectors to call upon as a replacement to open Australia's batting.
"I'm sure there's going to be plenty of other options for the selectors to replace me. I'm sure there's someone else that will get an opportunity and take it. There are some very good candidates," he added.