England are hoping to get by one more time without the "irreplaceable" Andrew Flintoff before the pivotal allrounder returns as captain.
Flintoff was, as expected, omitted from a 13-man squad for the first Test against Pakistan at Lord's as he makes his way back to fitness following a recurrence of an ankle injury, although there was a recall for Warwickshire batsman Ian Bell.
In Flintoff's absence, Andrew Strauss will lead a team which may or may not figure England's most reliable seam bowler Matthew Hoggard who is touch-and-go for the start of the four-match npower series after injuring his bowling hand.
Hoggard needed six stitches in his right palm on Saturday after his England A and Yorkshire colleague Tim Bresnan accidentally stood on him as the pair warmed up before start of play against the tour-ists at Canterbury.
England's chairman of selectors David Graveney announced a 13-man squad - including a five-man pace contingent, to ensure cover in the event of Hoggard missing out, but he also relayed the most encouraging bulletin yet on Flintoff's expected return in time for this month's second Test, on his home ground at Old Trafford.
He said: "All things being equal, he will be available for the second Test." ..SUPL: