Ankle injury dogs Pup ahead of Ashes Test

CRICKET

Australia hosed down fears of an injury concern about captain Michael Clarke, who hurt an ankle at training yesterday.

Clarke appeared to roll his right ankle during fielding drills as Australia prepared for the second Ashes Test against England, starting on Thursday in Adelaide.

Clarke limped slightly, and repeatedly grabbed and flexed his right ankle, but continued fielding training at Adelaide Oval.

He later batted in the nets and showed little discomfort and teammates said there was no concern about the skipper.

"He's OK. He looked like he batted pretty well in the nets," batsman Steve Smith said after training.

"I think he's good to go. He was in there doing all his normal recovery so I think he's OK."

During training, fellow batsman George Bailey wasn't even aware of Clarke's slight hiccup.

"I didn't even know he had done anything. I saw him batting and he looked good there, so I guess he's fine," Bailey said after training.

While Australia are confident of Clarke leading the team out on Thursday, paceman Ryan Harris dared England to push batsman Ian Bell into the pivotal first-drop role for the second Ashes Test.

The tourists are considering Bell or Joe Root to replace Jonathan Trott as No 3 in their batting line-up. Harris wants England to promote run-machine Bell into the crucial batting position.

"It's a great loss with Trotty not there. It's going to be interesting to see who they put in there," Harris said yesterday.

"Hopefully it's Bell, because we get an earlier chance to get him out, that is what I'm thinking.

"I want to get him in there early. He did very well in that last series and he came in at times when they were under the pump and made big scores.

"It [No 3] obviously gives him more time to get in, but it also gives us more time to have a crack at him."

England's batting coach, Graham Gooch, said Bell, who batted No 5 in the Brisbane opener, and Joe Root, who batted six, were candidates for first drop.

"I'm not a believer in you've got to be very careful about looking after people in what number they bat," Gooch said yesterday.

"If you're asked to bat three, four, five or six, you have to do that job.

"I'm sure both of them will want that challenge if they're asked.

"Both of them could do it, but we'll decide what is best."

Trott, suffering a stress-related illness, returned to England after Australia's crushing 381-run win in the First Test.

Fast bowler Harris said Trott's illness was out of bounds for the Australians.

"Jonathan has gone now and I'd be disappointed if anyone brings that up. It's not a nice thing that he's going through," Harris said.

"We want Jonathan Trott back playing cricket.

"The whole world does, the Australian team does because he's one of their best players ... we want to play against their best team.

"He has obviously made a very big decision to go home."

 AAP

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