sport

Swann backing for Pietersen

Graeme Swann believes Kevin Pietersen still has a big role to play for England in the "short-term" future.

The former England spinner, who announced his retirement after the defeat in the third Ashes Test in Perth, insists talk of Pietersen's international career being over is premature.

Swann also dismissed suggestions that he was talking about Pietersen when he criticised players for thinking they are bigger than the game.

"England's short-term future should include Pietersen," Swann told The Sun.

"People seem keen to create a rift between Kevin and the rest of the team.

"Among the more ludicrous stories was one claiming he did not go to the team's Christmas lunch.

"I know he did - because I sat next to him.

"Since being reintegrated in 2012, his attitude has been great. He was England's top run scorer in the Ashes and is one of the world's best players, so why get rid of him?"

Swann also revealed that Pietersen had not been a target when he hit out at the attitude of certain players following his retirement announcement last month.

"At my retirement press conference, I made some comments about certain players being 'up their own backsides'," he added.

"But I wasn't having a go at Kevin or any other England player."