Will Pucovski's struggles with concussion are frustrating for the young opener but Australia's selectors should be patient with him, former Test wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist said.
Pucovski suffered the 10th concussion of his career after being hit by a ball at training a month ago and is still dealing with symptoms. The 23-year-old has been all but ruled out of the first Ashes test in Brisbane from December 8.
"It’s really sad for him, frustrating for him first and foremost," Gilchrist told Reuters.
"I can't imagine going through that type of disappointment and physical challenge, trying to get yourself up and fit and ready to go.
"I would assume that whilst he’s keen and eager to establish an international career, he’ll always be in the conversation when he’s fit, such a fine talent as he is.
"Of course (David) Warner’s closer to the end of the career than the start, and there will be another opening spot in the future anyway.
"So hopefully Pucovski can get through and we can see him fulfil every bit of potential that we’ve heard about and seen glimpses of."
Pucovski made his long-awaited test debut in January against India in Sydney but suffered a shoulder injury in the match and was replaced by opener Marcus Harris for the fourth test in Brisbane.
READ: Australia opener Pucovski 'unlikely' to play in Ashes opener
Victoria batter Harris has been dropped twice in his 10-test career and averaged less than 10 against England when Australia retained the Ashes in 2019.
Experienced top order batter Usman Khawaja, meanwhile, has launched a compelling case to partner Warner with two centuries in successive Sheffield Shield matches last month.
Though not a selector, test captain Tim Paine has nominated Harris over Khawaja to open in the Ashes should Pucovski prove unfit, and Gilchrist agreed.
"I would expect that he will probably be the frontrunner and he's shown some good signs early on in the Shield season," Gilchrist said of Harris, who scored a recent century in a Shield match against New South Wales.
"The challenge will be for him to cement the position."
Warner had a dreadful series against England in 2019, where he averaged 9.50 and was dismissed by paceman Stuart Broad seven times.
Barring a half-century against Sri Lanka in a group match at the T20 World Cup, Warner's form has raised alarm bells.
However, Gilchrist backed the 35-year-old left-hander to bounce back against England on home pitches.
"Warner's record at home is like a different player to what he's had overseas," he said.
"It's a fresh start in fresh conditions.
"We expect that he'll come out really keen and eager and confident. He's a real fighter and scrapper."