Johnson backed for Ashes nod

Mitchell Johnson ... saai verwoesting.
Mitchell Johnson ... saai verwoesting.

Sydney - Test great Glenn McGrath says enigmatic paceman Mitchell Johnson must play in the Test series against England, believing he can be a big part in Australia recapturing the Ashes.

The erratic left-armer, who has been taunted by England's notoriously raucous Barmy Army fans in the past, is in line to share the new ball with Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle in the Ashes opener in Brisbane on November 21.

The 32-year-old was dangerous but expensive in his return first-class match for Western Australia this weekend, taking five wickets for a combined 162 runs, but McGrath said he must be picked.

"He has to play. I think he'll play a big part in this series," McGrath said Sunday.

"I've been impressed with what I've seen. He had a few issues, probably a little bit technically but just as much mentally, and he did some work with (Australia pace great) Dennis Lillee and really sorted them out."

Injuries to James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc have opened up a position in the Test attack, and Johnson has the experience to fill the breach when selectors name a likely 13-man squad on Tuesday.

Johnson, who made his Test debut in 2007, has taken 205 wickets in his 51 Tests at 30.93.

Shane Watson (hamstring) is on track to at least bat in the first Test, but bowling allrounder James Faulkner may be picked in the squad as back-up.

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