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Jul 24, 2009

Andrew Flintoff tread carefully

Ashes match-winner Andrew Flintoff will only play at Edgbaston if England is totally confident of him getting through the entire five days at full capacity.

Flintoff, 31, overcame the effect of his right knee injury to claim the man-of-the-match award.

Three injections in the worrying joint helped him retain his hostility with the ball throughout the challenge and his rampaging spell on the fifth morning sealed the result.

He has been painful in the aftermath, however, and is resting up, in an offer to be fully fit for the third test match starting next Thursday.

Andrew Flintoff is determined to get through the whole campaign before retiring from Test cricket, and says he will play during the pain, but neither he nor the management will put the good of the team in risk.

"I don't think that sort of decisions take an incredible amount of strength," said coach Andy Flower.

"If guys are fit enough to get through and contribute to winning Test matches then they'll be selected."

This series will be Flintoff's last test series, and the poignancy of the moment was improved by his first ever five wickets haul at Lord's.

"We know what a important contribution his was," Flower said.

"I think one of his main contributions to us over the five days was giving the side self-confidence and belief."

"Definitely with him leading the attack in that last innings, it gave us the belief we'd bowl them out."

England will already miss its premier batsman Kevin Pietersen for the final three matches of the series, with Warwickshire's Ian Bell prepared to fill in on his home ground next week.

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