Injured fast bowler James Pattinson is not ruling out a return to international cricket this summer, but admits a call-up to the Australia Test XI might be beyond him in the immediate future.
The 26-year-old will take his first tentative steps back into bowling with Victorian Premier club Dandenong next month, with a two-day clash against Prahran on November 12 pencilled in for his return.
Pattinson believes he will be fit and firing in time for the Melbourne Renegades' opening KFC Big Bash League match on December 22, while a pre-Christmas appearance for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield may also be on the cards if all goes well in his club cricket return.
"I'm back bowling now and I'm off my long run next week," Pattinson said on Monday.
"I'll play grade cricket in the next couple of weeks and see how I go from there.
"If not Shield, then I'll definitely be right to go for the start of the Big Bash.
"I haven't ruled out international cricket this summer.
"Tests are probably off the cards but definitely one-dayers I'm open to if I'm bowling well enough and they want to play me."
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After returning to Australia's Test XI in Hobart last December, Pattinson made four appearances in the Baggy Green before developing a bone stress injury in his left shin following the Christchurch Test against New Zealand in February.
That complaint ruled him out for the rest of the domestic summer, before it was then revealed in May that he had suffered a relapse of stress fractures in his back.
It was the latest in a long list of injury setbacks for Pattinson, which have hampered his career since the 2013 Ashes in the UK.
"This year I've tried to go pretty natural, I've tried to just let ball go and see what happens," Pattinson said of his latest recovery.
"It's probably the best I've felt in terms of bowling.
"I haven't been looking at the vision every time I bowl, so mentally it's been a good freshen up, running in and bowling.
"I feel like I’m getting back to somewhere where I was when I started playing Test cricket."
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With 70 wickets at 26.15 under his belt from his 17 Tests to date, Pattinson remains positive about his future in the Baggy Green.
"I'm in a good position still, I just turned 26 and I've played close to 20 Tests already," he added.
"I've still got long time ahead of me hopefully.
"I get inspiration from Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee, who had the same sorts of injuries and came back to play 70-odd Tests for Australia.
"It's easy to stay positive because I'm a pretty upbeat kind of guy."