Andrew Flintoff faces eight weeks of uncertainty after conceding that his latest injury could be career-ending. Flintoff had keyhole surgery on his right knee last Monday and will not know whether the operation has been a success until after the second of two check-ups.
"The next few weeks are quite crucial in the recovery and I'm not supposed to put any weight on my knee," said the 31-year-old all-rounder, who retired from Test cricket after the Ashes triumph but hopes to make his return as a one-day international player when England tour Bangladesh next March. "In the past when I've been on crutches for two or three weeks my leg has been terrible, so this time it is going to be awful. I will see the specialist in a couple of weeks and then have another eight-week check-up. It's only then we'll know the extent of where I'm up to.
"I have set myself a target of returning for the tour to Bangladesh. There is a possibility I may not play again. It's something I'm going to have to be prepared for in case the operation is not as successful as I hope. There will be a question mark in my mind about whether I have played my last game until I know how the operation has turned out."
Flintoff has faced similar levels of uncertainty after each of his four operations on his left ankle in recent years. Then, five months ago, his involvement in the Ashes series was open to debate following surgery on that now fragile right knee.
As for Steve Harmison, Flintoff's biggest mate in cricket, a decision over his future seems to depend as much on mind as body. The fast bowler is clearly contemplating retirement from the international game but says he wants to concentrate on helping Durham to retain the Championship title before talking to England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower.