Tim Bresnan elbow injury flares ahead of England tour opener in Dubai

Bresnan faces fitness Test as old elbow injury flares ahead of tour opener in Dubai

Tim Bresnan is a doubt for England's first Test against Pakistan in Dubai this month after missing practice because of an old elbow injury.

The Yorkshire all-rounder, who was unable to attend a pre-Christmas training camp in South Africa after surgery on his right elbow at the start of December, is set to miss Saturday's three-day warm-up game.

That would leave him with only one three-day match – against a Pakistan Cricket Board XI starting on Wednesday – to get ready for the first Test, which begins on January 17.

Injury blow: Tim Bresnan will miss England's tour opener in Dubai

Injury blow: Tim Bresnan will miss England's tour opener in Dubai

A team spokeswoman said: 'He is unlikely to play in the first tour match but there's not a great concern about it at this stage.'

Bearing in mind that Bresnan's post-surgery recuperation has already eaten into vital preparation time for a three-Test series set for the choking heat of the UAE, though, there must be concerns about his availability for the first Test, especially as the elbow in question has only recently been operated on.

It is a mark of the progress Bresnan has made that his absence would be a serious blow to Andrew Strauss's tourists. Each of his 10 Test appearances has resulted in an England win, and last summer he dismantled India's batting galacticos with 16 wickets at 16 apiece.

His batting skills also provide vital balance to a side that may yet contain both spinners – Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar – if the pitches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi look conducive to turn.

Team talk: England coach Andy Flower addresses his men at nets

Team talk: England coach Andy Flower addresses his men at nets

Fielding drill: Tim Bresnan, Kevin Pietersen and James Anderson take part

Fielding drill: Tim Bresnan, Kevin Pietersen and James Anderson take part

While Bresnan sits out the early part of England's eight-week tour, a window of opportunity will present itself for Steven Finn.

The Middlesex fast bowler has not played Test cricket since a mixed display against Sri Lanka at Lord's in June, but he was one of the few success stories to emerge from England's disastrous one-day tour of India in October – a nippy performance which did his place in a highly competitive seam-bowling pecking order no harm.

'I'm still a kid in cricketing terms, but I'm getting stronger all the time,' said Finn. 'The extra yard of pace I've found was something that just happened. I wasn't consciously saying I have to bowl quicker, but it was great it did happen towards the middle and back part of last season and in India.'

Preparations: Andrew Strauss (centre), Stuart Broad (second right) and Ravi Bopara (right) during a practice session in Dubai Sports City

Preparations: Andrew Strauss (centre), Stuart Broad (second right) and Ravi Bopara (right) during a practice session in Dubai Sports City

Raring to go: Fast bowler Steven Finn

Raring to go: Fast bowler Steven Finn

Finn went straight from India to New Zealand, where he bowled nearly 130 overs in four first-class matches for Otago, taking nine wickets at 36 each. The plan, hatched at the end of last summer, was to ease back into Test-match mode before the trip to the Middle East.

And with Finn forced to sit out the 4-0 demolition of India while Bresnan, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad boosted their Test statistics, his hunger has grown.

He said: 'I'd rather be involved with a team who are achieving the things we achieve than playing with a team that's achieving nothing. To represent your country is a great honour, but to represent your country with a team that is very successful is a completely different thing.'