Is it the end for Fred after new setback?

THE longevity of Andrew Flintoff’s career was thrown into question again yesterday when his long-awaited comeback from injury was curtailed by yet another setback.

The injury-plagued 32-year-old was due to return to action with Lancashire’s second string this week after spending a year on the sidelines following two knee operations.

But the all-rounder wasn’t deemed fit enough by his county and has now been ruled out of all cricket for the rest of the summer.

Flintoff was hoping to finish the final six weeks of the domestic season with Lancashire and then make himself available to play for Chennai Super Kings, in next month’s Twenty20 Champions League.

Now, this latest setback not only casts doubt as to whether he will feature for England in their one-day series with Australia this winter, but also raises concerns as to whether he will ever return to first-class cricket.

A Lancashire statement read: “Following consultation with Andrew Flintoff, Andy Williams [Flintoff’s surgeon] and our own medical team, Lancashire CCC have today confirmed Flintoff will not be returning to competitive cricket for the remainder of the 2010 season.”

Flintoff has not played at all since undergoing major surgery on his right knee last August, leading to a second operation in January.

But sources close to Flintoff have played down fears his career may be over, insisting he is being held back as a matter of precaution and not due of a recurrence of his knee injury.

Lancashire’s cricket director Mike Watkinson added: “Whilst Andrew has made significant progress, the combined opinion is that he is not quite ready for a return to cricket.

“He will continue his rehabilitation into the winter months and we will constantly monitor and review his progress so that he is better equipped for a return to action.”