England have called up uncapped Warwickshire batsman Jonathan Trott as possible cover for all-rounder Andrew Flintoff for this week's fourth Ashes Test at Headingley.
Concerns over Flintoff's troublesome right knee have prompted the selectors to consider their options if he fails to recover in time for Friday's next Test - including the prospect of playing Trott as one of six specialist batsmen.
Trott has been included in a 14-man squad with left-arm spinner Monty Panesar dropping out of the squad from the drawn third Test at Edgbaston while left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom has been called into the squad for the first time in this npower series.
"In choosing our squad for this Test, we decided to omit a second spinner as Headingley is not usually a ground where two spinners are required and therefore Monty Panesar misses out on selection this time," explained national selector Geoff Miller.
"We will need to carefully assess the pitch and the overhead conditions at Headingley before finalising our 11 for this Test and the inclusion of Steve Harmison and Ryan Sidebottom will give us different types of pace bowling options.
"Both players have been in good form for their counties in recent weeks and as selectors we are delighted that competition for places in the side is so strong."
Harmison has been included despite suffering blistered feet during Durham's championship win over Sussex at Chester-le-Street last week, but the biggest fitness concern again surrounds Flintoff.
He has needed injections to get through the last two matches in his final series before retiring as a Test cricketer and his availability is expected to be the deciding factor in whether England strengthen their batting line-up by adding Trott.
The 28-year-old South African-born batsman struggled in his only previous experience of international cricket, scoring just 11 runs in two Twenty20 internationals against West Indies at the Oval three years ago, but impressed during the Academy's tour of New Zealand last winter.
"Jonathan Trott has also performed really well for Warwickshire this season and his place in the squad is fully deserved," added Miller.
"His inclusion will provide us with the option of playing six batsmen if we feel this is appropriate.
"We will continue to closely monitor Andrew Flintoff's fitness in the build-up-up to Headingley. His right knee will be reassessed by our medical staff over the next 48 hours and no final decision on his availability will be taken until closer to the start of the Test."
England are due to assemble in Leeds tomorrow for practice as they attempt to shrug off the disappointment of failing to secure victory on the final day at Edgbaston and claim the win they require from the final two Tests to regain the Ashes.
Andrew Strauss (captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Graham Onions, Matt Prior, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott.Reuse content