Paul Collingwood is adamant England can triumph in the Ashes series - despite the loss of the influential Kevin Pietersen. The 29-year-old has been ruled out of the rest of the series after undergoing an operation on the Achilles problem which has plagued him all summer.
The absence of Pietersen threatens to cast a cloud over the team's crushing victory over Australia at Lord's last week. The South African-born batsman appeared to limp throughout the second Test and was clearly in pain during his time at the crease. In Pietersen's absence Ian Bell comes into the side to bat in the No 4 spot and the Warwickshire man is hoping to make the most of home advantage at Edgbaston.
Bell has already excelled against the Australians this summer while playing for the England Lions and Collingwood is certain there will be no problems once the third Test starts today. "Obviously Kevin not making it is a blow but there are people who can come in and do a job," said Collingwood. "It's not about one person but it's about the team and we need to make sure we can reach the same level of intensity as we did at Lord's.
"It's the worst case scenario that Kevin isn't playing and I'm sure he is gutted. "It's up to those other guys to come in and do the business." Captain Andrew Strauss's men will take the field today with some happy memories. Edgbaston was the scene of their famous two-run triumph in 2005 - a game which Collingwood watched from the comfort of his own home. This time he is expecting to be involved in yet another titanic tussle, with Australia determined to fight back following their first Test defeat at Lord's in 75 years. The Durham all-rounder also saved the hosts in the first Test with a gritty six-hour 74 as he marshalled the tail to eke out a draw.
"The one thing you know about Australia is that they will never lie down and die," said Collingwood. "We know they will come back at us and we have to be ready to deal with that. It's important to celebrate your victories but there's no danger in us getting carried away whatsoever. "The win means nothing at the moment because we're only 1-0 up. We've got three more matches to go and so we've got a lot of work to do. We won't be getting ahead of ourselves and we know exactly where we are. It's only 1-0.
"It's going to go down to the wire because this is the Ashes. It's never easy against Australia and that's why we were so tired after back-to-back Test matches." Certainly Collingwood is in confident mood and with Andrew (Freddie) Flintoff, who was yesterday passed fit to play in the match, in such fine form, England expect the burly Lancastrian to bring down the curtain on his Test career with one final triumph.
"It's definitely Freddie's destiny to go out by winning the Ashes and hopefully it's already written," Collingwood added. "When you walk out of the pavilion with him in your side it does have a massive effect on you because you know the other team are going to be scared of him. "Fred's announcement came as a shock but it's amazing how cricket can be full of fairytale stuff. "He hasn't changed in the dressing room. He knows as we all do that this is his last series so he is going to put everything into it and he wants to win.
"But that's what Freddie is all about and he completely loves the Ashes. It is his stage." firstname.lastname@example.org