Australia spin wizard Shane Warne believes England's squad for the Ashes series is better than the one which earnt England a series victory last year.
Andrew Flintoff's nomination as England captain has also received praise from Warne who scotched talk that too many players were injured or coming back from injury.
"One thing that leaps out of the squad is the number of players who are not fit at the moment, but I can't see why this is such an issue," Warne said in The Times.
"By my reckoning the first Test is 10 weeks away and with the cricket ahead, the break could be the best thing for the likes of Ashley Giles and Steve Harmison."
"I don't agree that England are weaker than a year ago. In a couple of areas I feel that England are actually stronger. Chris Read is the best wicketkeeper in the country and Monty Panesar is a more dangerous and aggressive spin bowler than Giles."
Warne said Flintoff had been a good appointment as England boss to replace the injured Michael Vaughan ahead of current captain Andrew Strauss.
"Freddy has become a good mate of mine and I know how much he wanted the job," Warne said. "That is always a good start.
"He will lead by example and somebody of that ability is bound to have the respect of the team. The Flintoff/Strauss combination could be pretty effective.
"They remind me a bit of Laurel and Hardy - although I saw Fred at a charity event on Monday and I probably shouldn't say that because he is rapidly fasting away into a rake.
"I have some sympathy with Strauss as I know what it is like to be in the running for the job and then not get it.
"Initially I felt very down and wondered if I just wasn't good enough."
The first Ashes Test starts in Brisbane on November 23.