Tim Paine admits "one or two" England stars may not be at the Ashes

Australia captain Tim Paine is confident that a "really strong England side" will play in the Ashes this winter, but he did admit that "one or two" stars could pull out.

The ECB and Cricket Australia have been locked in talks for a number of months over what conditions will look like for the touring party.

And the ECB is set to give the tour the green light in the coming days, with it then up to the players to decide on their availability.

One of the central issues for a lot of players was whether their families would be able to join them in Australia.

However, they are set to enjoy a softer quarantine in a resort in the Yarra Valley region in Victoria, with the length of time set to be reduced from 14 days to seven as vaccine rates improve throughout the state.

Speaking on SEN Hobart, Paine said: "Positive news is that I’m hearing a lot of their players will commit [to the Ashes].

"There might be one or two that don’t, but I think we will see a really strong England side come out here as we would want as players and as Australian fans.

"So, I think it’s going to be maybe a little bit of added spice through the media which is nice … there’s always a bit extra on an Ashes series so this one is going to be no different."

When asked if he was ever concerned that the tour could be called off, Paine replied: "I had confidence.

"My understanding as I said behind the scenes was that both boards were working really hard together to make sure it would go ahead, so I was pretty comfortable with it.

"[Although] I did have one night where I was like, 'Oh god this is going to look ordinary if it doesn’t go ahead', but thankfully it’s looking good.

"My belief still is that the first Test will be December 8."

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