Cricket: Ashes fears as England's Swann faces surgery

DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AFP) - England off-spinner Graeme Swann faces a race against time to be fit for this year's Ashes double-header after injury forced him out of the Test series against New Zealand on Wednesday.

Swann was a surprise omission from the tourists' side to face the Black Caps in the opening Test in Dunedin, with officials later confirming that a long-standing problem with his right elbow had flared up and would need surgery.

"(He) clearly couldn't get through the five days," England captain Alastair Cook said after Monty Panesar was named to replace Swann in the first Test, with James Tredwell joining the squad as cover for the rest of the series.

Swann had bone fragments removed from his elbow in 2009 but the surgery was only partially successful. The 33-year-old said he experienced pain in the joint during a warm-up loss to a New Zealand XI last week.

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