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Upbeat Swann eyes rapid road to recovery

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Graeme Swann is confident of playing a full part in England’s Ashes summer after declaring his recent elbow operation a success.

The off-spinner went under the knife in Minnesota earlier this month in an attempt to cure the long-standing problem.

He previously had elbow surgery in 2009 and the treatment he received saw him cleared to feature as England reclaimed the urn from Australia later that year.

The issue, which England have been careful to manage in recent years, flared up again just before the first Test in New Zealand, leading to concerns over Swann’s long-term prognosis.

But he reported for duty at Nottinghamshire’s pre-season media day and spoke optimistically about his plans to be bowling by the end of next month and available for the return series against New Zealand in May.

“I feel great. I want to be back as soon as possible because I’m bored stupid already,” he said.

“I think it would kill me if I sit down and watch too much cricket at the start of the summer without being an active part of it. I want to play as much as I can.

Graeme Swann

Graeme Swann does not expect to be sidelined for long after undergoing elbow surgery. "I feel great," he said at Nottinghamshire's media day.

“By the end of April I hope to be bowling. I don’t know if that’s realistic or not, but that’s how my mind works.

“The surgeon has reassured me it was a lot more straightforward this time.

“In an ideal world I’d be fit and proving to the coach and captain that I’m bowling well to make the first Test of the summer. That’s my aim. Whether it’s pie in the sky or too optimistic, that’s the goal.”

Swann has been one of the most frequent beneficiaries of England’s rotation policy in recent years, particularly in one-day cricket.

The 34-year-old has previously cast doubt on his likely longevity at the top level but he was upbeat when asked about the future.

“I’m not too worried. The hunger is still strong,” he said.

“I love Test cricket and I’ll play as long as my body can stand it, whether that’s 12 Tests or 112.

“But I’ve not been worried about anything long-term because I know I’ll be fine.

“The last time the operation I had was far more serious and the recovery was great - he was able to sort me out and get me fit for four years of unbelievable Test cricket.

“I was bowling for three-and-a-half years relatively pain-free and that was one of the signs in New Zealand; all of a sudden I got a sore back, shoulder, abdominals.

“It was all down to the fact the elbow wasn’t working properly. Now it’s all clear and it should be right as rain.”

One advantage to Swann’s rehabilitation programme - which involved waking in the middle of the night to complete a series of exercises - was the chance it gave him to watch his England colleagues.

The result in New Zealand, a drawn series including three stalemates, may not have been ideal, but Swann was struck by Matt Prior’s match-saving heroics in the final Test.

“In his position, Matt is the best in the world,” he said.

“We wouldn’t change him for anyone. I don’t think there’s a better wicketkeeper playing Test cricket.

“He is an unbelievable keeper these days and his batting speaks for itself.”