'He risks serious damage'

Andrew Flintoff's fitness coach last night said the Lancashire all-rounder was risking "serious long-term back damage" by joining England in Pakistan at such short notice.

Andrew Flintoff's fitness coach last night said the Lancashire all-rounder was risking "serious long-term back damage" by joining England in Pakistan at such short notice.

Steve Hampson, a former Great Britain rugby league international and now Flintoff's coach, also said he was "very disappointed" at the selectors' decision to summon the player.

"They could have sent for someone else," Hampson said. "For me, he wants to get his back sorted out as soon as possible as it may lead to serious long-term problems."

The chairman of the Test selectors, David Graveney, has said Flintoff will be going out as a specialist batsman, and as he would not be bowling, his injury not be aggravated.

However, Hampson said: "If you're six foot five and you're bent over at the crease, for whatever length of time, it's going to hurt. We need to get this sorted out as soon as possible."

Hampson said he had not been consulted before Flintoff was recalled to Pakistan. "Andrew spoke to the selectors and was happy enough to go and help out as they have a crisis. We still don't know what exactly the problem with Andrew is. It's linked in some way to the nerves in his back."

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