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DateLine Thursday, 18 October 2007

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Flintoff defiant after fourth op

England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff insists he will return to action better than ever despite a fourth operation on his left ankle.

Flintoff, 29, will be sidelined for seven months after undergoing surgery to finally resolve the troublesome injury in the Netherlands last week. The Lancashire star is convinced Professor Niek van Dijk has pin-pointed the cause of the problem that threatened to wreck his career.

He laughed off suggestions he will never get back to the influential form which helped England win the Ashes in 2005.

ďIím absolutely confident I can get back to playing for Lancashire and England again to the level I have in the past,Ē Flintoff said.

ďThe surgeon went into the joint and found things wrong. He removed some bone fragments that were deeply embedded and did some work on the tendon too.

Flintoff will miss Englandís forthcoming tours to Sri Lanka and New Zealand while he rehabilitates his ankle and he refuses to put a date on his return. ďIím not setting any targets about when I might play again - all Iím thinking about is when I can come off the crutches, which should be in a few days.

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