Ashes 2013: Third Test preview

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Football News

England enter into the third Test at Old Trafford knowing that victory will be enough for them to retain the Ashes urn, but the fitness of Kevin Pietersen remains the thought prominent in the mind of captain Alastair Cook.

Pietersen was unable to take the field for Australia's second innings during England's convincing victory at Lord's having sustained a calf strain, which immediately made the batsman a doubt for the following encounter.

Nottinghamshire youngster James Taylor has been drafted into the England squad as back-up should Pietersen not be deemed fit to feature in Manchester, and Cook is hopeful the 33-year-old will be adjudged available for selection. 

"He has come through training the last two days," Cook said at a press conference on Wednesday

"He has worked incredibly hard with the medical team so fingers crossed."

Cook, however, added that Pietersen must prove he is 100 percent fit if he is to be considered when the England team is revealed at the toss on Thursday.

"If it flares up during a match, then it leaves you disadvantaged. You're either injured or you are not," he explained.

"It is a difficult game to go into if you are not 100% fit."

Australia, meanwhile, approach game under pressure to secure a first victory of the series, or else forgo their chances of regaining the Ashes they last won in the winter of 2006-07.

The tourists lost in agonising circumstances in the first Test at Edgbaston before they were clinically dispatched at Lord's, but skipper Michael Clarke insists the Ashes dream is yet to be extinguished.

"I honestly believe we can win still win the series," a defiant Clarke said.

"I know a lot of people will laugh at that but I wouldn't be here if I didn't think we could. Without a doubt our backs are against the wall but I think we can still shake up this series."

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

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

Australia cricket
England cricket
The Ashes

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