LONDON (AFP) - England captain Andrew Strauss said it was wrong to criticise Andrew Flintoff for playing in the Indian Premier League after the all-rounder sustained a knee injury ahead of an Ashes series. Flintoff underwent on Tuesday what the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said was "successful" keyhole surgery on his right knee after the hero of England's 2005 Ashes win injured himself playing for the Chennai Super Kings in South Africa. England cricket chiefs are confident the 31-year-old Flintoff will be fit in time for June's World Twenty20 tournament, which England are hosting, and the subsequent Ashes series against Australia. Given Flintoff's lengthy history of injuries, and the fact he is on an England central contract which ought to give the national management some control over where and when he plays, the decision to let him take part in the IPL was controversial from the start. Ex-England captain Nasser Hussain accused the likes of Flintoff of wanting to "have their cake and eat it". But Strauss, speaking after making 150 for Middlesex against Leicestershire at Southgate in an innings where Australia rising star Phillip Hughes was unbeaten on 99, was sympathetic towards Flintoff's plight. "I don't think he had a niggle when he went to be fair, it developed while he was over there," Strauss said."It's a tricky situation, but you can get injured anywhere, whether he was playing in the IPL or for Lancashire (Flintoff's county), you can't control that particularly. "It was a decision for the players themselves as to whether they wanted to go over and play in it and you can understand their decisions as there were big benefits in terms of experiencing Twenty20 cricket." Left-handed opening batsman Strauss added: "It's not something you'd hold against a player. It's a tough decision to turn down that sort of money. "Let's hope his recovery is as swift as possible and that he comes back feeling very comfortable with his body." Flintoff is now set to miss the return visit of the West Indies having missed two Tests, two one-day internationals and a Twenty20 in the Caribbean following a hip injury. Since the fourth operation on his left ankle in 2006, Flintoff has played in just 13 of England's subsequent 36 Tests. "I really felt for Freddie when I heard about this (knee injury) because he had two injuries in the West Indies, he just looked like he was getting back and then he gets injured again," said Strauss."It's very hard for him to get any real momentum and form. It's been a very frustrating few months for Freddie to be fair. "We really hope that he swiftly recovers from this and by the time the Ashes start he is feeling as fit and healthy as possible.