By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia fast bowler James Pattinson is recovering from his back injury ahead of schedule and is targeting the third test in Perth in a boost for the hosts' hopes of wresting the Ashes back from England.
Australia suffered a litany of injuries in the first of back-to-back Ashes series, which they lost 3-0 In England, but have enjoyed some rare good news in recent days.
Bowling coach Craig McDermott, who helped rejuvenate Australia's attack in the wake of their humbling Ashes defeat on home soil in 2010-11, announced his return to the role this week in time for the coming campaign which starts November 21 with the first test in Brisbane.
Pattinson's recovery from a stress fracture in his lower back will also cheer the hosts, given some had written off the feisty 23-year-old's chances of playing any part in the series.
"It's all going pretty well at the moment," Pattinson, who was sidelined for all but the first two tests against England, said on Friday.
"I had a scan on Tuesday morning and came back all clear, so all the healing part is over now and I can stuck into lifting some heavy weights and start back bowling next week and go from there.
"Third, fourth test could be on the cards.
"(I'm aiming for) the WACA ... Hopefully it's nice and green up there and I can get back into the Australian colours up at the WACA."
Australia still have a number of pacemen under injury clouds, with left-armer Mitchell Starc also recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back and Ryan Harris, Australia's top wicket-taker in England, scrambling to recover from a hamstring injury.
Jackson Bird is also battling to be fit in time for Brisbane.
Although struggling with injuries since his 2011 debut, Pattinson has captured 47 wickets from 12 tests and would be a timely addition to Australia's attack on the WACA's fast and bouncy pitch.
Along with young pacemen Starc and Pat Cummins, who has been ruled out of the Ashes with injury, McDermott oversaw Pattinson's rapid rise from first-class rookie to proven test bowler in the home summer of 2011-12.
McDermott will focus on the test bowlers, with Australia's other bowling coach Ali de Winter looking after the limited overs teams.
"He did a great job with us beforehand ... A lot of the new boys know Billy (McDermott) quite well and he's very good at what he does," Pattinson said.
"It's fantastic to have Billy back in the fold and it'll be good to work with him again.
"Now we can have, obviously, a specialist in the limited overs and a specialist in the tests, it'll make it a bit easier for the bowlers adjusting.
"It'll give us a little bit more clarity as a bowler jumping between the three forms (of cricket)."
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)