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Graeme Swann. -Photo by Reuters

LONDON: Seasoned off-spinner Graeme Swann and all-rounder Tim Bresnan were included on Saturday in England’s 12-man squad for the opening Test against New Zealand at Lord’s from Thursday, marking their international returns after five-month absences because of elbow operations.

The pair last played for England in the drawn fourth Test in the 2-1 series victory against India in December. Both then underwent operations and missed the drawn three-Test tour of New Zealand in March before making their comebacks in county cricket this season.

Swann replaces left-arm spinner Monty Panesar and Bresnan comes in for back-up seamer Graham Onions.

“Both Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan have worked hard to regain fitness following elbow surgery and have demonstrated through their performances for their counties that they are ready for the challenge of international cricket,” chief selector Geoff Miller said.

The rest of captain of Alastair Cook’s squad, announced by the England and Wales Cricket Board, is predictable. Young batsmen Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow retained their places in the continued absence of the injured Kevin Pietersen.

After the disappointing 0-0 draw in New Zealand, England will be looking to beat the Kiwis in a two-match series that ends at Headingley before the Ashes begins against Australia later in the summer.

“We are anticipating another very competitive series against New Zealand and know that we will need to improve significantly on our performances in the recent Test series against them if we are to start the international summer on a positive note,” Miller said. “This series provides a good opportunity for the players to show that they have learnt from the experiences over the winter.”

Squad: Alastair Cook (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Nick Compton, Steve Finn, Matt Prior, Joe Root, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott.—AP