Collingwood buoyed to Pietersen return

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The Independent Online

Paul Collingwood admits England have missed one of their star players of recent years, Kevin Pietersen, during his three-month absence from the game and will welcome him back with open arms after he joined up with the team this week.

The South African-born batsman will not feature in today's opening Twenty20 international against his former countrymen at the Wanderers as he takes the final steps towards completing rehabilitation from an Achilles injury that his kept him out since July.

Pietersen, who linked up with his team-mates in Johannesburg on Tuesday, will miss the game alongside Andrew Strauss and Stuart Broad - the regular captain no longer plays international 20-over cricket, while the all-rounder is injured.

But Collingwood said: "When KP comes back in the side, what he brings is a world-class player, it's as simple as that.

"He's a great character to have in the dressing room and that can only be a real positive for us because we've missed him over the past few months."

England have one more tour match against South Africa 'A' next Tuesday when Pietersen is expected to make his return.

Collingwood continued: "Absolutely (it gives us a boost). He's going to be available from the Potchefstroom game and we're all looking forward to him coming back into that starting line-up because we all know what he can do with the bat.

"You always miss a guy who can play the shots that he can play and we look forward to him coming back in."

Opposite number Graeme Smith has also welcomed the arrival of the England batting star.

He said: "I think it's terrific to have a full-strength England team in South Africa. It just bodes well for a really competitive one-day and Test series to come.

"Kevin adds to the spice, I guess. So he brings a spice and an interesting sort of facet to the tour, so it's great to have him here."

Pietersen is not the only local-born Englishman expected to take the field today with a similar career path.

There is also Jonathan Trott, a player some of the Proteas players may have faced during their earlier years and who has now decided to play in blue instead of green.

Smith said he expected both players to receive hostile receptions from the crowd.

He added: "I guess the public is going to be very supportive of South Africa. I think whenever you tour the world, if you're a big name player you always carry the can and carry the heat - I'm sure Kevin will carry that here.

"I don't think Jonathan will be any different. But I certainly hope there's a degree of respect and things are handled in the right spirit."