Injured superstars will cast a shadow over Old Trafford this week - but Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer is determined that their absences will not detract from the second Test match.
England were hoping to be led out by Andrew Flintoff tomorrow, returning to the captaincy on his home ground. Instead, he is booked in for surgery on his problem ankle while Pakistan must continue without pace spearhead and chief wicket-taker, Shoaib Akhtar.
Woolmer laments the loss of both but promises his team will be doubly determined to prove their collective worth after drawing the first Test at Lord's without first-choice pace bowlers Mohammad Asif and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan as well as batsmen Younis Khan and Shoaib Malik.
Pakistan's batting cavalry is back, and the former Warwickshire and South Africa coach is confident a minor scare for wrist-spinning allrounder Shahid Afridi - hit on his bowling arm in the nets yesterday - will not stop him playing.
Even so, he rightly baulks at any suggestions that England - for whom Liam Plunkett (side strain) is ruled out for the next two Tests - are the only ones compromised by injury, saying: "We have our own problems. Three or four of our top players are out at the moment. We have to keep working hard - there is no hiding place in a five-day Test match."
Afridi's presence ought to preclude the need to summon Sussex's Mushtaq Ahmed for a Test comeback. Woolmer said: "There are no updates at all on Mushtaq Ahmed. But we will discuss it later. We've looked at the pitch hard; we've seen the records over the last few years on the pitch, and the spinners haven't been that successful here."