Ashes - England monitor KP fitness

England were keeping a close eye on proceedings as Australia's latest tour match against Sussex got under way - and not only to check on their Ashes rivals.

PA Sport
Ashes - England monitor KP fitness
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James Taylor, front right, celebrates the dismissal of Ed Cowan

With the squad for next week's third Test against Australia at Old Trafford due to be named on Sunday, England were not just monitoring their opponents' attempts to rediscover form, but considering selection options.

Chief among their concerns is the fitness of batsman Kevin Pietersen, who suffered a calf injury in the second Test victory at Lord's.

Pietersen is battling to recover for Thursday's match but England gave a clue as to the identity of a possible replacement this week by requesting that Nottinghamshire's James Taylor play for Sussex at Hove.

Taylor played two Tests for England against South Africa last summer but was overlooked for the winter tours to India and New Zealand.

He boasts good form this summer having scored 824 runs in 15 County Championship innings, with an unbeaten double century against his temporary side, Sussex, in June. Yet Taylor was not getting too carried away with thoughts of a Test recall just yet.

"I'm hopeful that KP will be fit to play and, as it stands, I'm preparing to play in the three-day game for Sussex and nothing more," the 23-year-old told reporters earlier this week.

"I'm not back in the Test side yet but I'm pleased to be a step closer to it and I've always dealt with situations like this by concentrating on the game in hand and refusing to look too far ahead."

Other options for England could include Ravi Bopara, who shone in the recent Champions Trophy, but he has been troubled by a side strain for the past fortnight. Yorkshire's Gary Balance also has his admirers having scored 690 runs at an average of 57.5 in the Championship this season.

Another reason for focusing on events at Hove concerns the bowling options. Old Trafford may not have staged a Test since 2010 due to extensive ground redevelopment but its reputation for spin endures.

England - like Australia - are pondering adding a second spinner to their squad and Monty Panesar was in action against the tourists. It could mean leaving a seamer out of their squad.

Steven Finn and Graham Onions could be the most vulnerable having not made the final XI to play the second Test.

Pietersen, meanwhile, has been continuing his rehabilitation. Making clear that he has spent a lot of time at the gym this week, he tweeted: "Might try getting in the car this am and when turning on the ignition, say the words, 'gym for rehab..' Surely it will drive me there.."

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