Coulter-Nile injury opens door for Bird

Seamer Jackson Bird says he is happy to be Australia's Ashes back-up option with main rival Nathan Coulter-Nile cut down by another worrying back injury.

Tasmania's Jackson Bird says he'll be ready to play a role in the Ashes series.

Tasmania's Jackson Bird says he'll be ready to play a role in the Ashes series.

Bird will miss the third Sheffield Shield round to join Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins for a Brisbane training camp next week, in a sure sign he'll be named in the Australian squad for the first Test.

Coulter-Nile had excelled over the past fortnight for his state and was Australia's leading quick in the recent one-day tour of India.

Many tipped the WA paceman's form would win him the fourth fast-bowling spot for the Gabba Test later this month.

Bird happy in his role as back up. Pic: Getty

But his prospects are now in grave doubt after aggravating an old back injury during WA's clash with England at the WACA Ground.

Coulter-Nile bowled 16 overs during that tour match but complained of back stiffness the day after.

Subsequent scans have revealed an early-stage aggravation of a stress fracture.

No timeline has been set on his return but it seems certain he'll miss the entire Ashes series.

"Whilst this is a setback, the good news is that it has been picked up early so we are only considering a short break from bowling while we monitor him," Cricket Australia's sports science chief Alex Kountouris said.

"We expect he will have further scans over the next month which will determine when he can return to bowling."

The latest setback is a bitter blow for Coulter-Nile, who considered becoming a T20 specialist earlier this year following a series of career-threatening shoulder and back injuries.

With James Pattinson also on the long-term injury list, it leaves Bird out in front as Australia's fourth fast-bowling option.

The 30-year-old is happy to be in the mix, has no qualms about being referred to as a back-up and is ready to play if injury strikes the NSW trio.

"If those guys are all fit at the start of a Test match they more than likely will play," Bird said.

"I've got no issues with that; those guys are three of the best fast bowlers in the world when they're up and running.

"I'm under no illusions where I sit in that pecking order ... but there's been a lot of injuries around in the last 12 months so I'll be ready to go."

The probing quick has 34 wickets at 27.5 in eight Tests, including a solitary Ashes encounter on English soil in 2013.

But he knows not to take a call-up for granted after being controversially overlooked for his home Test last summer in favour of Joe Mennie, who lasted just one match.

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