Woolmer backs Shoaib to recover from injury

Published: Thursday, June 1, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore:Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer has given his backing to Shoaib Akhtar, saying the fast bowler is an integral member of the touring party for England despite suffering another injury setback.

Shoaib, who is battling to get fit following a knee operation he underwent in Australia four months ago, has been advised to take a week off training after straining his ankle.

However, Woolmer told Reuters that Shoaib would be given all the time he needed to regain fitness as he was regarded as a key player for Pakistan when they embark on their four-Test tour of England at the end of this month.

''He is a very important bowler for us and he has won us matches with his speed in the past. He is keen to make the squad but we have to wait and see how he comes through after he bowls in match simulated conditions,'' Woolmer said today.

The 30-year-old Shoaib has taken 165 Test and 199 One-day international wickets, but he has not played since January after first picking up an ankle injury and then being flown to Melbourne for knee surgery.

''We want to get him fit as soon as possible. But we don't want to rush things and take a risk of another long-term injury. The good news is that MRI scans have shown it is not a recurrence of the ankle stress fracture,'' Woolmer added.

The Pakistan coach also said the hardest phase of training for the England tour would start on June 12.

''That is when the fitness levels of all the players should become clear. So Shoaib has time to rest his strained ankle.'' Pakistan will play four Tests against England from July 13, followed by a Twenty20 international and five One-dayers.

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