Australia selector Merv Hughes has followed Shane Warne by insisting England’s current side is stronger than the line-up which won the Ashes last year.
Former pace bowler Hughes, who was a thorn in England’s side during his playing career, is impressed by Andrew Flintoff’s team but admits the absence of Marcus Trescothick could cause the tourists a problem during the forthcoming Test series.
"The Marcus Trescothick situation is not ideal for England," said Hughes.
"In a contest like this you want the best side on the park and certainly would have been in England’s best XI.
"But we’ve got enough on our plate to worry about without having to worry about what’s happening in the English team."
However, just as Warne has stated, Hughes sees England as an improving team.
"I think that’s pretty much the case, in that they’ve been together for a while now," said Hughes.
"The longer a side is together, and the more they play, the more confident they get, so certainly they have to be rated right up there."
Hughes told BBC Radio Five Live that, even with Trescothick ruled out by his stress-related illness, England have plenty of quality to trouble Australia in the Test series which begins in seven days’ time.
"We’ve got to worry about a fair bit I’d say," said Hughes.
"Flintoff and (Kevin) Pietersen are obviously very dangerous players, (Andrew) Strauss at the top of the order has been good, (Paul) Collingwood’s been good, (Steve) Harmison’s pace combined with (Matthew) Hoggard’s swing - they did some damage in the last Ashes series - so there’s a lot on the plate."
Australia named their squad for the opening Test today, with a strong pace contingent included and Warne the only spinner.
"From our perspective, all you can hope for is that our players perform well," said Hughes. "We think it’s a pretty strong squad and hopefully it’ll stand up to the pressure."