BIRMINGHAM- Australia's stand-in captain George Bailey said skipper Michael Clarke's absence for Saturday's Champions Trophy clash againstEnglandwas a blow, but the team was gearing up to face the challenge head-on. Clarke has been ruled out for the Edgbaston game due to a recurring back problem and it remained unclear if he will be available for the remaining group A matches againstSri LankaandNew Zealand.

Bailey,Australia's Twenty20 captain, said the team's immediate focus was to win the opening game. "There's no doubt it's a blow," Bailey said of Clarke's absence. "We'd love to have 'Pup' with us as a batsman and as our captain. But we have to deal with the fact that we don't have him for tomorrow. The challenge and opportunity is there for the rest of us to step up, and I know it will be a great boost to the side to know that we can win without him."

Bailey said he was not under pressure to lead the side against big rivalsEnglandin a major tournament. "I'm not under any more pressure than any other captain," he said. "My role is to score runs in the middle-order. If I can do that, we have players who have played enough cricket to know the basics of the game. I'm not going to do anything as a captain that's going to revolutionise the game. It's still the individual that ends up making the game happen. I'm just in charge of hoping the coin lands the right way, really."

Australiawon the last two editions of the Champions Trophy, but Bailey said it won't be easy to complete a hat-trick against seven other strong sides.

"I reckon all sides believe they can win the tournament," he said. "If we play our best cricket, I've got no doubt we can win the tournament and we probably will win the tournament. "But the challenge is to make sure that on the days you are a little off, you can find a way to put a team under enough pressure that they succumb."

Bailey brushed aside worries about the team's batting form after Australia were skittled out for 65 by India in a warm-up match. "It's not an ideal preparation to get bowled out for 65, but we'll start on zero tomorrow and they (England) will start on zero," he said.