England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff remains optimistic of making his long-awaited comeback from injury, but has not set himself a timescale after his domestic season was ended prematurely without him playing a match.
The 32-year-old has not played since the final Ashes Test almost a year ago, after which he underwent two operations on his right knee.
Flintoff has retired from Test cricket but is still hopeful of playing at the 2011 World Cup, which England are the 4/1 joint-favourites to win.
His county, Lancashire, have ruled him out for the remainder of the domestic season in order for him to continue rehabilitation work.
This latest setback also rules him out of next month’s Twenty20 Champions Trophy in South Africa where he was due to play for Chennai Super Kings.
Lancashire’s cricket director Mike Watkinson believes it makes sense for Flintoff to take his comeback slowly after a number of false dawns.
“Whilst Andrew has made significant progress, the combined opinion is that he is not quite ready for a return to cricket,” Watkinson said.
“Hopefully he will be able to get back into the game without the risk of a further breakdown – that is what he doesn’t want.”
If Flintoff does make his comeback, he may have to restrict his bowling, which one medical expert believes is causing him the majority of his problems.
“The type of scar tissue that forms following the microfracture surgery Freddie had does not cope with the impact forces that the original cartilage did,” said Will Pressley, physiotherapist and CEO of Health and Fitness Solutions in London.
“This is really not a good sign and one unfortunately that suggests he will struggle to bowl seriously again.”
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