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Bell back in England's Ashes line-up

  • Story Highlights
  • Batsman Ian Bell named in England's 13-man squad for third Ashes Test
  • The 27-year-old is expected to start in place of the injured Kevin Pietersen
  • He will win his 48th Test cap after being left out of last seven match-day squads
  • England lead tourists Australia 1-0 in series ahead of match at Edgbaston
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(CNN) -- Batsman Ian Bell is poised to return to England's starting line-up for the third Ashes Test against Australia at his home ground of Edgbaston next week.

Kevin Pietersen's Achilles injury has forced him out of the remainder of the Ashes Test series.

Ian Bell has the backing of England's chief selector ahead of the third Ashes Test in Birmingham.

The 27-year-old Warwickshire player was omitted from the squad that started the five-match series, but is now expected to win his 48th Test cap after being named in the 13-man match squad.

England's selectors have indicated that Bell will be a straight replacement for star batsman Kevin Pietersen, who was ruled out of the rest of the series on Friday due to his ongoing Achilles problems.

"Kevin's injury has presented an opportunity for Ian Bell, who we know is a top-class batsman with an excellent international record for England," chief selector Geoff Miller told the England and Wales Cricket Board Web site.

"Ian will be looking to make the most of his return to the side during an Ashes series, and while we have a strong idea of where he will bat, we won't be disclosing the final line-up of the side until the toss on Thursday."

Bell has been left out of England's past seven Test matches, but was retained as cover for Pietersen for the opening draw at Cardiff and the historic victory at Lord's last week.

Miller is confident that the experienced Bell can bolster England's batting despite his impressive start to the season faltering with two recent failures for his county.

"He got a hundred just recently and he's been in pretty good form -- he's a very good player," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "We know he's an international quality player - and just because he got a nought in his last innings, he's very likely to go and get a 150. We hope he will get 150, so I have no worries about that.

"Although we haven't named any extra batting cover in the squad, we have several options should the need arise to call in another batsman."

The other 10 players who featured in England's 115-run win have been retained for the match at Birmingham starting on Thursday, while fast bowler Stephen Harmison and spinner Monty Panesar are also in the squad.

All-rounder Andrew Flintoff is still a doubt for the match following his match-winning exploits at Lord's, with his damaged knee still causing him problems.

Miller believes Flintoff will do everything he can to be fit in what will be his final series in Test cricket, having announced before the Lord's game that he intends to focus solely on limited-overs formats.

"Andrew Flintoff's performance at Lord's was truly memorable, and we hope he can take his place in the side for the third Test as he continues to manage his knee injury," Miller said.

"Andrew and the medical staff are quite bullish about his prospects of playing, but we'll continue to monitor his progress in the days leading up to Thursday.

"Fred is desperate to finish this Ashes series, with a win as well. He's announced his retirement from Test cricket after this, so you know full well that Fred will be giving everything he possibly can to actually win these Ashes.

"I'm confident he'll be ready to sort out Australia at Edgbaston. I am sure they will be quite happy if he wasn't playing. But I am sure he will be playing."

Meanwhile, Australia completed a morale-boosting 135-run win against Northamptonshire on Sunday, despite key strike bowler Mitchell Johnson again struggling.

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The left-armer conceded 107 runs from 18 overs in the match before taking the final wicket as the hosts were bowled out for 217.

All-rounder Andrew McDonald boosted his Test chances, taking 4-15.

All About Ian BellKevin PietersenEngland and Wales Cricket Board Ltd.AustraliaCricket

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