PACEMAN Ben Hilfenhaus has been ruled out of the Boxing Day Test after suffering a side strain in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart.
Despite the Tasmanian batting yesterday, Australian coach Mickey Arthur said Mitchell Johnson was ready to step in next week at the MCG.
"The latest there is that Hilfy's got a side injury, and it will definitely rule him out of the Boxing Day Test, and we'll just see where that takes us," Arthur said.
"Mitch is back in Perth on a training program. We'll assess tomorrow the extent of all of our players, and how it impacts on the BBL commitments."
The other injury concern after yesterday's play was skipper Michael Clarke who retired hurt at 57, although he returned to field in Sri Lanka's second innings.
Arthur said he expected Clarke to lead the team's bid for victory today.
"I imagine he would be (back for day five), Michael wants to be involved in everything ... he wants to marshal the troops hopefully to a Test win, so I'm pretty sure he'll be out there," Arthur said.
"He'll get all the treatment he needs. You'd have to cut Michael's leg off for him not to be out there."
In a worst-case scenario, however, Arthur said the captain's absence would not only open the door for Shane Watson to step up to the top job, but also for one of a group of batsmen waiting in the wings.
"We haven't discussed it, but it would be an ideal opportunity for Shane to captain the side if Michael was ruled out," Arthur said.
He named former Test keeper Brad Haddin, Victorian Rob Quiney, Queenslander Usman Khawaja and Tasmanian Alex Doolan as those to come under consideration if Clarke was ruled out of the Boxing Day Test.
Despite the injury situation, Arthur said he was confident Australia had enough bowling weapons to secure a victory, adding the plan had always been to go for quick runs and declare about tea time.
"The wicket is playing a little more deceptively. I've got full confidence we've got an attack that has the ability to get those eight wickets," he said.
"We had 380-390-400 in mind, but we always wanted to bowl from tea. We felt that gave us enough time to get Sri Lanka out."
Arthur also said he was particularly impressed by what left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc produced yesterday.
"I thought Mitchell was outstanding today. He got a lot of reverse swing. He's a developing bowler ... improving all the time. I was really excited by what I saw today."