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England to blood debutant in fourth Test

Root admits Wood and Crane were considered but tourists decide to replace injured quick Overton with the uncapped Curran

Fast bowler Tom Curran will make his Test debut on Boxing Day after England captain Joe Root confirmed the paceman will replace the injured Craig Overton.

Overton has been a shining light on a miserable tour for England, picking up the wicket of Steve Smith on debut in Adelaide but the right-armer was diagnosed with a cracked rib in the third Magellan Ashes Test in Perth.

The 23-year-old bravely played through the injury at the WACA after being struck while batting in Adelaide but was ruled out of the MCG Test on Christmas eve.

Curran, a right-arm quick who plays for Surrey, made his international limited-overs debuts this year. He was only added to England's touring party after Steve Finn was forced to fly home due to injury.

Root said speedster Mark Wood and leg-spinner Mason Crane were both considered for the fourth Test in Melbourne.

"Sometimes as a captain you have to go with your gut and he (Curran) really hit home with me this week," the visiting skipper told reporters on Christmas Day.

"It wasn't an easy decision. We certainly (spent) a while thinking about it, trying to weigh up what was the going to be the best way to go about it in these conditions and on this surface.

"For the balance of the team, I think Tom was the best option. 

"He does get the ball to move around a little bit. He's always in the contest.

"That's one thing that really stands out to me - he will at no point hide away from any challenge if it does become very hard. He'll give it absolutely everything."

There have been calls for England to inject some extra pace into their side and Wood is arguably the quickest they have at their disposal.

The right-armer has made an initial return from injury on the British Lions tour of Australia and was in contention for a berth in Melbourne.

But Root said Wood's fitness remains an issue.

"He did come into it," Root explained.

"The fact that (he's) not necessarily 100 per cent fit, not played a huge amount of cricket and might have been a little bit of a risk going into this game (affected the decision).

"It was a tough call and guys made it very difficult for me."

It had been suggested the likes of Stuart Broad could make way after England squandered the urn in Perth, but Root backed the tourists' under-performing players to bounce back in Melbourne.

"There are other guys who are looking for form and are ready to turn things around," he said.

"They've got an opportunity to do that now this week.

"It's a great opportunity on such a big stage. It's an Ashes test and there's so much to play for."

Australia skipper Steve Smith earlier confirmed the injured Mitchell Starc would make way for Jackson Bird in the home side's XI.

England XI: Joe Root (c), Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Dawid Malan, Chris Woakes, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

Australia XI: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird. 

More to come.

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard

Third Test Australia won by an innings and 41 runs. Scorecard

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21