Usman Khawaja racing clock for Ashes opener

Usman Khawaja will miss Australia's final Ashes tune-up but the tourists insist their hamstrung batsman will be ready for the first Test at Edgbaston.

The last audition for spots in Australia's 16-man Ashes squad begins on Tuesday, when the nation's best 24 players square off in Southampton.

Usman Khawaja is in a race to be fit for the Ashes after injuring his hamstring in the World Cup.

Usman Khawaja is in a race to be fit for the Ashes after injuring his hamstring in the World Cup.

Selectors are expected to name the Test squad after day four of the contest, with the the five-Test series to begin on August 1 in Birmingham.

Khawaja's hamstring, which he tweaked on July 6 in what proved a costly World Cup loss to South Africa, is the only fitness concern complicating the panel's discussions.

Coach Justin Langer was initially upbeat Khawaja might feature in the Southampton showdown, the 32-year-old's only chance to gain some match practice before the first Test.

Khawaja's bid to return against his teammates fell short but captain Tim Paine believes the No.3 batsman will soon be fully fit.

"I don't think he's in serious doubt (for the Ashes)," Paine told reporters.

"He won't play (this week) at this stage. There is a possibility, maybe, if something were to happen to someone else he might be right for the back end of the game.

"But we expect him to be fully fit and available for selection for the first Test."

The four-day game between sides led by Paine and Travis Head doesn't have first-class status, meaning selectors could hypothetically sub Khawaja into the contest later this week.

Langer has made it clear to every Ashes contender he wants the contest to replicate a Test rather than a centre-wicket session.

The two camps have trained separately in recent days, with Paine promising "Test-match intensity" in Southampton as he starts the search for Australia's first Test series win in England since 2001.

"It will be a proper game," Paine said.

"We certainly don't expect it to peter out on the second innings or play around with a run-chase or anything like that.

"It's a fair dinkum game of cricket and that's been made really clear.

"It's going to be a fascinating week or so and there's some real opportunities for guys."

The bulk of the squad has already been picked but a series of tough decisions will soon be made by Langer and chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns, including whether to select a second spinner and reserve wicketkeeper.

Australian Associated Press

This story Khawaja racing clock for Ashes opener first appeared on The Canberra Times.