England are set to call up uncapped left-arm spinner Monty Panesar for the tour of India today. The selection of the 23-year-old Northamptonshire bowler, who claimed 46 championship wickets at 21.54 in 2005, is expected to be confirmed this morning.
Panesar could find himself partnering Shaun Udal in the Tests because of big doubts about Ashley Giles' fitness. Giles is struggling to recover from a hip problem and may not be fit to go on the tour which starts on 12 February.
The 32-year-old Warwickshire spinner had an operation in December but has not recovered as quickly as had been hoped. England's selectors are considering the view of a specialist before deciding whether to take Giles - either Ian Blackwell or Alex Loudon is likely to replace him if he fails to prove his fitness.
Former England spinner John Emburey says the selectors should consider genuine bowlers rather than all-rounders as cover for Giles.
Backing the claims of Panesar, Emburey said: "Do you want all-rounders or bowlers of match-winning potential? The batsmen have to knuckle down, you shouldn't have to rely on the tail."
Panesar scored only 75 runs in 11 innings last season. Emburey, now coach of Middlesex, said: "He'd be my choice but he doesn't bat or field and I know Duncan [Fletcher] likes players strong in more than one area."