Pietersen returned to the nets this week for the first time since he left England's tour of New Zealand before the third Test in March with severe bruising to the bone behind his right knee. Flower is still refusing to put a date on his likely return to action with Surrey, but is hopeful that he remains on course to play enough cricket in June and early July to prove his fitness and build form and confidence, before the first Test against Australia which starts at Trent Bridge on 10 July.
"I'll be seeing him on Thursday," said Flower, who now relinquishes day-to-day control of the England side to Ashley Giles, the one-day coach for the three-match series against New Zealand followed by the Champions Trophy, partly to allow him to maintain focus on the Ashes. "He'll be practising from now on. Not with the team – the team will be focusing on winning games. Kev's focus is getting back to full fitness.
"We are thinking optimistically about his injury improving and it's nice that he's pain free. Kevin's a really special player and we want him back as soon as he's fit enough to be back. So that is good news for us and hopefully his improvement graph will carry on in the same way." There have been suggestions that Pietersen might return to action in Surrey's County Championship game against Sussex at Arundel that starts on 12 June, slightly earlier than previously thought. That would be a significant boost as it would allow him to play three first-class games – a second for Surrey against Yorkshire followed by England's four-day match against Essex at Chelmsford – before the first Test.
If he fails to make the Arundel game, there is still a possibility he could be placed with Somerset for their four-day match against the Australians that starts in Taunton on 26 June – much as Andrew Strauss was when he was struggling for form ahead of a series against India in 2011.
"We can't give a date or a timeline," added Flower. "Our medical staff are constantly monitoring how he's getting on. So we'll be making those types of decisions closer to the time."
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