England blow as Flintoff is ruled out of Ashes clash

ANDREW FLINTOFF is definitely out of the fourth Ashes Test at Headingley, starting this morning.<br /><br />The Lancashire all-rounder yesterday failed a fitness test on his injured right knee, leaving England with no option but to plan for the next assault on Australia without their star performer. <br /><br />The Leeds clash was due to be Flintoff&rsquo;s penultimate match after announcing he is to retire from Test cricket at the end of the series.<br /><br />But now there are concerns that he might not even be fit for his farewell Test &ndash; which could prove a series decider &ndash; at The Oval on 20 August.<br /><br />Flintoff has been inspirational for England in the series so far with his magnificent five-wicket haul at Lord&rsquo;s particularly instrumental in Andrew Strauss&rsquo;s men opening up a 1-0 lead.<br /><br />But with back-to-back Tests at Edgbaston and Headingley separated by just four days, this was always likely to be a big ask for Flintoff in his battle to recover from knee surgery.<br /><br />Sporting a support bandage, Flintoff clearly struggled in a 35-minute spell in the nets yesterday &ndash; even though he was not bowling at full pace &ndash; prompting England medics to order an early fitness assessment to give selectors extra time to re-think a strategy. <br /><br />Durham paceman Steve Harmison is the most likely to get the nod to replace Flintoff, although Nottinghamshire seamer Ryan Sidebottom and Warwickshire batsman Jonathan Trott also come into contention after being named in a 14-man squad on Tuesday. <br /><br />Trott, 28, averages 99.75 in the County Championship this season and could make his Test debut batting at six at the expense of bowler Stuart Broad.<br /><br />Captain Strauss said: &ldquo;We have a 14-man squad and any of those 14 are capable of doing a very good job. We need to look at what the weather conditions are going to be like and the best attack to take 20 wickets.&rdquo;<br /><br />Australia have similar issues with trio Brett Lee, Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke all being assessed before a team is named his morning.<br /><br />Lee missed the first three Tests with a rib injury but has been bowling in the nets at full pace this week. Wicketkeeper Haddin broke a finger just prior to the third Test, while Monday&rsquo;s century hero Clarke missed training yesterday with an abdominal strain.<br /><br />Captain Ricky Ponting said: &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got some guys who are sore, we want to see how they get through training.&rdquo;