England will assess the fitness of seam duo Ryan Sidebottom and James Anderson before deciding who to leave out for the second Test against South Africa this morning.
Andrew Flintoff has been guaranteed his first Test cap since January 2007 but selectors are holding out on naming the XI until they know the fitness of their seam attack.
Chris Tremlett, of Hampshire, and Nottinghamshire’s Darren Pattinson have been drafted into the 12-man squad as bowling cover for Sidebottom and Anderson, who both undergo late fitness tests on sore backs.
But captain Michael Vaughan has revealed that Flintoff will definitely be brought in to bat at seven and end England’s run of six Test matches unchanged.
“I will say that ‘Freddie’ Flintoff will play,” Vaughan said. “He will bat at No7 and then the decision will be made whether we go for four bowlers or five.
“Whichever decision we make, Freddie will definitely bat at seven. “I know 18 months is a long time but who’s to say that Freddy won’t come out and get a five-for and a hundred because that’s his style. He’s like KP (Kevin Pietersen) – one of these superstars who can do very special things.”
As for Sidebottom’s fitness, Vaughan added: “Sidey’s stiff right now. His back is key to what XI we will play.”
Meanwhile, South Africa are also sweating on the fitness of a key player with opening batsman Neil McKenzie struggling with a groin strain.
McKenzie suffered the injury during his nine-hour stint at Lord’s, which helped the Proteas earn a draw in the opening Test, but is expected to be fit.