Fletcher worry at Headley struggle

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The Independent Online

The England coach, Duncan Fletcher, yesterday expressed his concern at the on-going back problems which could rule Dean Headley out of contention for the opening Test match against Zimbabwe at Lord's, which begins on 18 May.

Despite two visits to specialists, no definitive diagnosis is available to determine whether Headley's current trouble is related to the lower back problem which forced him home early from England's tour of South Africa last winter, when he delivered only 10 balls in the opening game against Nicky Oppenheimer's XI at Randjesfontein.

Headley was ruled out of yesterday's Championship game against Lancashire at Canterbury, in which the first day was washed out, and now has only one first-team fixture to prove his fitness - against Zimbabwe on 3 May - before England assemble in Taunton on 11 May for a three-day get-together, although he could play in a Second XI match against Somerset on 2 May.

Fletcher said: "I've spoken to Dean, but it's very difficult because as an individual you're feeling an injury and then you're waiting for the medical guys to come up with an answer - and it's not very easy to come up with one.

"It's a bit of a concern to work out what's going on, but it does seem positive. He's had instructions from [the England physio] Dean Conway to start training again and then bowl in three or four days' time."

Headley said: "People keep asking me how my back is, but there's not a lot I can say. I'd been bowling for about a month in pre-season training before I got this. The main concern is that it's in the same lower back area as before."

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