Kevin Pietersen has a calf injury and England will wait until the last minute before making a decision on his fitness. James Taylor has been brought in as batting cover. Monty Panesar is in contention after being brought into England's 14-man squad but could miss out despite taking 25 wickets in three Tests at Old Trafford. Chris Tremlett is also in the England squad although Tim Bresnan is expected to continue as the third seamer if England do pick three and ignore Panesar's claims.
Australia could end David Warner's exile from the side after he was suspended for punching England opener Joe Root in a Birmingham bar during the Champions Trophy. Warner made 193 for Australia A against South Africa A on July 24 and the left-hander could replace Chris Rogers, who has only 89 runs in four innings in the Ashes series. Steven Smith failed to train on Tuesday due to a bad back though and if he fails to recover then he could be the man to make way. Spinner Nathan Lyon is also expected to come in to boost the bowling attack, with debut sensation Ashton Agar at risk, while bowlers Mitchell Starc and Jackson Bird are vying for the injured James Pattinson's place.
England: Alastair Cook (capt), Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wk), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson.
Australia: Shane Watson, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Phil Hughes, Michael Clarke (capt), Steven Smith, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.
England captain Alastair Cook: "Old Trafford is notorious for having a wicket that is not aesthetically pleasing, if I could put it that way. But I don't think it's going to make any difference at all. I think it's actually a better looking Old Trafford wicket than normal. That's what home advantage is. It's very hard to actually just order a wicket. You can ask for a wicket to try and suit your style of play. But it's very difficult to get it absolutely right with the weather. You go to the sub-continent and you play against three spinners like we did in Mumbai, and that's what one of the challenges of cricket is."
Australia captain Michael Clarke: "England were the better team at Lord's but we know we can beat them. This is not some sort of hollow boast. We almost won the first Test at Trent Bridge little more than a fortnight ago. Big results can turn on little moments. We have shown enough on this tour individually to know that if we put our performances together as a unit we are a very competitive side. Everyone in the top seven has scored a half-century in the first two Tests and our bowling has been generally strong."
England's James Taylor (L) and Kevin Pietersen look on during a training session before Thursday's third Ashes Test against Australia at Old Trafford (Reuters)
Image credit: Reuters
The state of the Old Trafford pitch has been a matter of contention with Australia's players describing it as "strange" and "different" due to some bare spots that, according to the Australian media, appear to have been "burnt on". A hard, dry pitch will favour pace and spin but spells of rain are forecast for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Incredibly, England have not won the third Test of an Ashes series since 1981. However, they have 10 consecutive victories at Old Trafford in all forms of the game.