England coach Flower’s relief as Swann is given all-clear for Ashes challenge

FIT FOR THE ASHES - England's Northampton-born off-spinner Graeme Swann

FIT FOR THE ASHES - England's Northampton-born off-spinner Graeme Swann

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England team director Andy Flower has spoken of the moment he thought he had lost the services of Graeme Swann for the upcoming Ashes series against Australia.

Northampton-born Swann was struck on the right arm while batting on Monday morning by a 90mph delivery from Essex fast bowler Tymal Mills.

There were genuine fears at the time that Swann may have suffered a fracture during the LV= Challenge match, but it was later confirmed to be no more than bruising, and the off-spinner returned to the field to take five wickets on Wednesday as England wrapped up a comprehensive Ashes warm-up win.

But Flower did admit that he was a worried man on Monday.

“There were great concerns and for a couple of hours I thought Swann would be missing from the Ashes,’ he told The Mail.

“We thought he might have cracked his ulna (a bone in his forearm).

“Luckily it wasn’t the case, but it was badly swollen - not only when he was batting but afterwards.

“If something had been cracked, he wouldn’t have been able to carry on batting, but when he came in I was surprised by how swollen it was.

“I was also surprised by how well he played the fast bowler - after getting hit that badly, he fought it out there and didn’t come off and get it seen to.

“It’s a good example of his resilience.

“Because he’s a jokey sort of guy, we forget he is quite a tough competitor as well.’

Swann himself admitted he too was relieved, and said he wasn’t used to ‘being hit by rockets’.

“I was a bit worried at first because I’m not used to being hit by rockets,” said Swann.

“He (Mills) was too quick for me. But after a day watching the boys toil I thought I’d better get out there.

“I felt I needed a long bowl before the first Test and to get that and take five wickets was very nice.”

Swann is a certain starter in the England team for the Ashes series, which gets underway at the former Northants man’s home ground of Trent Bridge in Nottingham next Wednesday (July 10).