x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Graeme Swann returns to England with back injury

The England spinner has a lower back strain and will focus on returning to fitness ahead of the World Cup on the subcontinent.

MELBOURNE // Graeme Swann, the England spinner, is returning home from Australia because of a lower back strain but should be fit for the World Cup according to Andy Flower, the team coach.

Swann, who played an important role in England's first Ashes series victory in Australia for 24 years, was already suffering from a knee injury he sustained while batting in the second one-day international (ODI) against Australia

"Graeme Swann will be taking the earliest flight home," Flower told reporters in Adelaide today.

"He's unfortunately got a strain in his lower back and that, allied with his knee problem, means that it is best for him to go home and get ready for the World Cup now.

"Of course it is a big blow, he's an important part of our side, he's a world class performer and he's full of confidence obviously after the Ashes. But these things happen.

"We are coming towards the end of a long, hard tour and certainly the physical challenges are starting to take their toll."

Swann is the second England player to fly home in three days after  Tim Bresnan, the all-rounder. was also ruled out of the one-day series with a calf injury. The Nottinghamshire off-break bowler will now focus his attention on regaining his fitness in time for the World Cup.

"It's frustrating to return home from the tour early but the priority for me now is the World Cup and getting my body right so that I am able to play an important role for England throughout the tournament," Swann said.

"I will be following the rest of the series and hope to see England put in some positive performances over the next fortnight.

"I've had the time of my life over here and bringing back the Ashes is something that will always stay with me."

Swann had missed the past two one-day internationals after suffering a knee injury in the first Twenty20 international and had not been expected to return until the penultimate match of the 50-over series next week.

But after his latest complaint the England team management decided they could not afford to take any risks with the world's top-ranked spinner, especially as he is likely to play a significant role in the subcontinental World Cup.

However, there was some good news for the England touring party with Kevin Pietersen set to return for tomorrow's fourth ODI in Adelaide after missing the four-wicket defeat in Sydney on Sunday with a groin injury.

James Anderson was passed fit to resume after rejoining the squad following his scheduled three-week break after the Ashes.

England currently trail 3-0 to Australia in the seven-match series.