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Ryan Harris is not playing Australia’s ongoing tour match against Essex © Getty Images

London: Australia fast bowler Ryan Harris‘s hopes of being fit for next week’s first Ashes Test suffered a blow on Wednesday with a recurrence of the knee trouble that has blighted his career. The setback ruled him out of the team’s final warm-up match against Essex. The 35-year-old paceman underwent major surgery to his right knee last year and put himself on a lengthy fitness programme in a bid to be fit in time to face England at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens from July 8. READ: Ryan Harris claims he is fit for Ashes 2015

Although officials labelled Harris’s latest injury, which saw him replaced by Peter Siddle for the four-day game against Essex, as nothing more serious than “soreness” it may well be enough to keep him out of the side when Australia launch their defence of the Ashes.

Harris missed Australia’s recent series win in the West Indies in order to be present for the birth of his child, and after watching him bowl in the tour-opening win against Kent at Canterbury, team coach Darren Lehmann laid down the conditions required for the bowler to regain his Test place. READ: Ryan Harris set to emerge Ashes-ready from training program

“At the end of the day, Ryan Harris has got to be fully fit and if he’s doing that then he’s a big part of our side or squad going forward,” Lehmann said. “He has got to prove to us he can bowl 20 overs in an innings or roughly about and make sure he’s ready to go. If he can do that, he certainly comes into consideration.”