London, November 6: Graeme Swann is adamant Ben Stokes will take part in the Ashes and feels England are unable to directly replace the star all-rounder.
Stokes has not travelled with the squad to Australia and will not be considered for selection until the conclusion of a police investigation following his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm after an incident in Bristol in September.
England's Test vice-captain and a key man with both bat and ball, the 26-year-old was one of the team's few consistent performers as they suffered a 5-0 whitewash in 2013-14.
And Swann, who won the Ashes in Australia in 2010-11 but announced his retirement after three matches of the nightmare subsequent tour, believes Stokes should not be overlooked.
"Personally I think that Ben will be back and playing in the Ashes – I can't see any reason where he's not," he told Omnisport.
"You know, if he's not in court then he should be out there. He's not been charged then he should be playing for England. He's one of the best players in the world and I fully expect him to be playing."
Good morning! The team arrived in Adelaide today! pic.twitter.com/hyKYclgry1— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 6, 2017
Should Stokes be able to join the tour, it could tip the balance in England's favour, according to Swann.
"I think it pushes it towards England being favourites if I'm honest, just because of how good he is," he said of Stokes' potential impact.
"I mean, obviously, he's a bit out of net because he's not been playing much cricket but neither is anybody."
England's players have insisted they will remain competitive even if Stokes stays at home, but Swann is less enthusiastic about the prospect of trying to compensate for the Durham player's absence.
"You don't. You don't replace him," he said.
"You just have to build a different-shaped team. A team with Ben Stokes is very easy to build, it's a very strong team, and I believe he will play so I'm not going to 'what if' and postulate on what could happen because I believe he'll be there."
Swann also took a dim view of the barbs being exchanged by some England and Australia players in the media ahead of the first Test, which starts in Brisbane on November 23.
"The war of words, the phoney war has to end soon because it's just embarrassing isn't it, some of the comments that have been banded around, like David Warner saying it's a war. No, it's not. It's a game of cricket," he said.
" saw Mitchell Starc getting stuck in it, Chris Woakes. Chris Woakes is the nicest man in the world and I just don't get it.
"I mean, it's pathetic, so let's just let the cricket start and enjoy the cricket for what it is. It's a brilliant series and there's no need for all the boxing trash talk. It's embarrassing."
THE ASHES: It’s All About The Urn - England vs. Australia: Ultimate Cricket Rivalry by Graeme Swann is published by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £20.00. Out now.