MELBOURNE // Australia go into next week's first Test against New Zealandwithout five top-line players following a spate of injuries.
Shane Watson (hamstring), Shaun Marsh (back), Mitchell Johnson (foot), Pat Cummins (heel) and Ryan Harris (hip) were all confirmed as non-starters Friday for next Thursday's Test at the Gabba ground after sustaining their injuries during the just completed two-Test tour of South Africa.
Australia's new-look selection panel will now consider several fresh faces before announcing their squad today.
David Warner, the hard-hitting batsman, is almost certain to make his Test debut in place of Watson.
And the pacemen, Trent Copeland, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Starc and Ben Cutting, are also pressing for selection.
Alex Kountouris, the Australian team physiotherapist, said the injured players will undergo further monitoring to determine their chances of returning in time for the second Test against New Zealand on December 9 at Hobart.
"Ryan Harris is recovering from the pelvis injury that kept him out of the second Test against South Africa," Kountouris said.
"A decision on his return to training will be made early next week and will determine his return to playing."
Kountouris said Watson has not fully recovered from a hamstring strain sustained in the second Test against South Africa earlier this week,.
Marsh has also made significant progress from his back injury.
Cummins experienced left heel pain during his man-of-the-match performance during the second innings against South Africa, and Kountouris said he will be reviewed early next week to determine his workload plan for the summer.
* Associated Press