England head into the upcoming fourth Ashes Test safe in the knowledge that they have retained the urn for the third consecutive time, but they will still be playing for a win that will settle the series.

Talk since the rain washed out the Old Trafford Test has largely been centred around hot-spotgate. Australian media allegations that Kevin Pietersen - amongst unnamed others - used silicone to deceive the referral system surfaced after the conclusion of that match.

Some angry reactions have been provoked from the likes of Graham Onions and Pietersen during the short three day respite that has been afforded to the players between Tests.

Aside from defending his teammate, the Durham seamer also talked about the prospect of returning to the England XI once again.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Onions explained: "The prospect of a playing a Test match cricket again, and playing in front of your home crowd, it's going be fantastic if I was given the opportunity to play."

The physically tough schedule imposed on the hosts, could lead them to rest one of their bowlers, now that the Ashes are retained. And that could open the door for Onions to play his first Test in more than a year.

Meanwhile, the Australians will probably be thankful for such a quick turnaround, due to the fact that they were so impressive in Manchester. A courageous performance would probably have secured a victory to keep the series alive, if the heavens hadn't opened up.

Michael Clarke's side have exorcised some of the demons that haunted them at Lord's, and they will feel as if they've turned a new leaf. Two games remain this summer, before the return series commences in Australia later in the year.

In the aftermath of the last Test, the skipper was somewhat upbeat about his side's future prospects.

"We haven't performed anywhere as well as we would have liked," admitted the 32-year-old.

"But I think we've shown in this Test match that we are here for the challenge and the fight.

"There's no doubt our goal and my goal was to come here and win the Ashes and that hasn't happened. I can guarantee everyone in that changing room is hurting.

"If we can level the series we will take a lot of confidence back to Australia."

The skipper is also confident that Ryan Harris will be fit to play back-to-back Test matches, despite the bowler's incessant injury problems.

Momentum can be an important factor in professional sport, and it is something that the Aussies will strive to gain with dominant performances at Chester-le-Street and the Oval.

But England won't be rolling over, and Alastair Cook has exclaimed that his players will be giving it their all to keep their opponents down.

The opening batsman told BBC Sport: "We start from scratch. We keep saying what a good side Australia are and Old Trafford showed that.

"We want to go on and win the series. The way the lads are, the way we are as a team and the way (team director) Andy Flower operates, there will be no let-up of the standards we set ourselves." 

England predicted line-up: Cook, Root, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Bairstow, Prior, Bresnan, Swann, Anderson, Onions

Australia predicted line-up: Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Warner, Smith, Haddin, Siddle, Starc, Harris, Lyon


Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/130seMa

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms