Australia in disarray as injury puts Lee in hospital

"Brett is comfortable but he is presently on an intravenous drip with antibiotics being administered," said Errol Alcott, the Australian physiotherapist.

"He has had blood tests and we will find out the results on Tuesday. We are confident the therapy will lead to an early resolution but I'd rate his chances of playing Thursday as 50-50. The medical staff know his situation but they would not be happy for him to play unless his medical signs are resolved."

The infection was picked up from abrasions to the skin behind his left knee in the first Test at Lord's a fortnight ago, but Lee only started feeling discomfort yesterday. He remained under observation last night and will not travel to Manchester with the rest of the squad today.

The possible loss of Lee and Glenn McGrath, who tore ligaments in his right ankle in a freak training accident before the second Test, would leave the world champions with a much depleted bowling attack in Manchester. The only other bowlers in Australia's 16-man party are Shaun Tait and Stuart MacGill. Tait, a fast bowler from South Australia, is yet to make his Test debut and MacGill only tends to play when Shane Warne is absent.

Mick Lewis, a fast bowler playing county cricket for Durham, and Shane Harwood, a paceman playing in the Northern League, are due to join the Australians at Old Trafford. The pair will act as extra bowlers in the nets but neither is expected to play.

The Old Trafford pitch has a reputation for helping spinners and this could encourage Australia to play Warne and MacGill.

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