Leeds:England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is expected to be fit for the fifth and final Test against Australia at the Oval starting on August 20 after swelling on his right knee eased, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Monday.
Flintoff now has a shot at the fairytale farewell from Test cricket he always wanted, with England needing to win to regain the Ashes, after saying this would be his final series in the five-day format.
An ECB statement said: "Andrew Flintoff's right knee injury was reviewed today (Monday) by his specialist in conjunction with the ECB and Lancashire CCC medical teams.
"The advice received was the swelling in his knee has significantly eased following the decision by the England management team to rest him from the last Test match and that, subject to further rest and intensive treatment, he will be available for selection for the fifth npower Ashes Test at the Brit Oval."
England took the controversial decision to leave out the 31-year-old all-rounder, the bowling star of their 115-run second Test win at Lord's and top-scorer in the drawn third Test at Edgbaston, from their fourth Test side because of concerns his knee injury would prevent him seeing out the game.
But Flintoff's agent told Monday's edition of The Times his client was fit.
In pace bowler and hard-hitting batsman Flintoff's absence, England lost the fourth Test at Headingley here on Sunday inside three days by the crushing margin of an innings and 80 runs as Australia levelled the Ashes at 1-1.
To make matters worse, fast bowler James Anderson sustained a hamstring injury.
But the ECB statement said Flintoff's Lancashire colleague was also set to be available at the Oval where England must win to regain the Ashes, while Australia need only a draw to retain them.
"James Anderson also underwent a scan on his hamstring, which was clear," the statement said.
"As there is no evidence of a significant tear, it is anticipated that he will also be available for selection for next week's final Test."
Flintoff, the star of England's 2005 Ashes series win, has had an injury-blighted career and he said before the match at Lord's that this would be his final Test series.
Andrew Chandler, Flintoff's agent, was adamant his client could have played at Headingley, telling The Times: "He told them that he was fit enough to get through, that he felt no different to how he felt at Edgbaston and that he could get through and do his bit. They didn't want him."
Chandler said England had failed to factor in the galvanising effect of match conditions on Flintoff after he was unable to convince team management of his fitness during nets sessions at Headingley.
"What they didn't take into account during Thursday's practice was that there was no adrenalin," he said. "He was hurting at Lord's but the adrenalin got him through. It would have got him through this week as well."
There were only three days between the end of the Edgbaston Test and Friday's start at Headingley and England captain Andrew Strauss told reporters after stumps on Sunday: "Hopefully we're in a better situation to get a result earlier for the final Test.
"On the back of Edgbaston it was impossible to know too far out from the last Test whether he would be fit enough and it was unfortunate he wasn't quite fit enough."
Flintoff, despite missing out at Headingley, remains second in England's series batting averages, behind Strauss, with 171 runs from five innings in three matches at an average of 42.75 and a best, made at Edgbaston, of 74.
But he has taken just seven wickets in the series at an expensive average of nearly 49, with most of those coming in his match-winning burst at Lord's of five for 92.
Anderson is England's joint leading wicket-taker in the series, alongside Stuart Broad, with 12 wickets at 38.91 and a best of five for 80 at Edgbaston.
But, hampered by his injury, Anderson's 18 wicketless overs at Headingley cost 89 runs.
Australia quicks Ben Hilfenhaus (18), Peter Siddle (16) and Mitchell Johnson (16) have all taken more wickets in the series so far than Anderson and Broad.