Cricket: Knee injury forces Headley to sit it out

ENGLAND YESTERDAY insisted Dean Headley's knee injury was not a worry despite the Kent seamer being ruled out of a second day's net practice in Perth. Headley was withdrawn from yesterday's practice at the WACA after jarring his left knee, an injury not thought serious enough to prevent his participation. But he was again left on the sidelines and visibly limped around while England were put through a rigorous four-hour session by the manager, Graham Gooch, and the assistant coach, Bob Cottam.

The physiotherapist, Wayne Morton, explained: "When he was finishing his spell yesterday he slipped on the crease and felt a little bit of pain in the inside of his knee. He has a bit of soreness, tenderness and a bit of swelling but it is only the third day so as a precautionary measure we have rested him. He may sit out tomorrow as well and we will reassess it in a couple of days' time. It does not look too serious at the moment and he has made a remarkable recovery which is great but we do not want to rush anyone at this stage of the tour."

Headley's absence however is not an ideal situation for the England management just three days before their opening match of the tour against an Australia Cricket Board Chairman's XI at nearby Lilac Hill.

Gooch admitted: "He is better today but whether he is fit for selection on Thursday, we do not know at the moment. If it does not continue to improve we will have to look further into it. It is an important time because every player wants to impress in the nets, every player wants to make his mark and if you are injured it is not the best of starts."

The ACB have announced their line-up for Thursday's opening match which includes former Test players, Dennis Lillee, Graeme Wood and Bruce Reid. Matthew Elliot, top scorer in Australia's 3-2 Ashes triumph in England in 1997, is also included while Western Australia pair Ryan Campbell and Mike Hussey, who have played for Australia A, have also been selected.

Gough holds key, page 25

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