Melbourne:Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson's recent poor form may cost him a place in the final squad for the third Ashes Test starting in Birmingham on Thursday.
Coach Tim Nielsen on Monday hinted that Australia might not afford to play the left-arm fast bowler in the next match but also insisted the final decision will be taken only after assessing the conditions.
"At the moment we are working hard to get him bowling as well as he possibly can, and we feel he is getting closer every time, so we'll have a look at the conditions when we get to Edgbaston and take it from there," Nielsen said.
The 27-year-old pacer's poor form continued as he managed only one wicket giving away 107 runs in the three-day practice match against Northamptonshire that ended on Sunday.
"The last two years we've played some pretty good Test match cricket and Mitchell has been at the forefront of that," Nielsen said.
"There's been a lot of times when batsmen and bowlers have been out of form and we've stuck with them, and shown some faith, unlike what seems to be the public or the press point of view," Nielsen was quoted as saying in 'The Age'.
Nielsen also feels the problem is in Johnson's mind and once that hurdle's crossed, he will regain the penetration power.
"He is probably feeling every time he gets an edge it doesn't go to hand. At the moment it hasn't worked for him, and that's the challenge of this game," the coach said.
"The good players who last for long periods of time have to keep fronting up whether it be good or bad, and keep doing the right things. That's why I was pleased with Mitchell at the end.
"He bowled fast, he kept running in. I'm at him a bit about not dropping his head and not letting himself get too down and I reckon he has done that pretty well. He'll keep trying hard," Nielsen added.