Pietersen is continuing to nurse the calf strain sustained in the second Test at Lord's, but has been included in a 14-man squad for the next match at Old Trafford. Nottinghamshire's James Taylor has been rewarded for his form this season by being recalled as cover for the 33-year-old.
While all of the final XI from Lord's are retained, England have made two other changes to the squad with Monty Panesar and Chris Tremlett returning at the expense of Steven Finn and Graham Onions.
Panesar will give England the option of playing a second spinner at a ground that has traditionally favoured slow bowling while Tremlett offers extra pace for a likely hard surface.
National selector Geoff Miller said: "Kevin Pietersen is continuing his recovery from a calf strain and he will be assessed by the medical team closer to the start of the Test. We have therefore included an extra batsman in James Taylor, who has been in good form for Nottinghamshire this season.
"Chris Tremlett has worked hard to regain fitness and form following a couple of injuries and his performances for Surrey this season have been very encouraging.
"Including an additional spinner in Monty Panesar, who has plenty of international experience, provides Alastair Cook (captain) and Andy Flower (coach) with a number of options."
Pietersen's fitness will be England's prime concern over the next few days. Pietersen has not been at his most prolific this summer, and has been troubled by injury throughout the calendar year, but he remains crucial to England's bid to wrap up an early series win.
England can retain the Ashes with victory in Manchester after edging a thrilling opener by 14 runs at Trent Bridge and winning by a convincing 347-run margin at Lord's.
Taylor, who played two Tests against South Africa last summer, offers good form as back-up, having scored 824 runs at an average of 58.85 in the County Championship this summer.
The 23-year-old was drafted into the Sussex side as a guest this week to play in the tour match against Australia at Hove, and responded with an unbeaten 64 on the second day.
Taylor told Sky Sports News: "I'm delighted to be back in the England squad - it's one step closer to playing - but we all hope KP is fit and well for the game. I have scored plenty of runs in all formats now and I am feeling in good touch."
Panesar's recall could earn him a first home Test cap in four years, although he has made nine overseas appearances since, most recently featuring in New Zealand in March.
Panesar, who has 48 caps in total, has also been playing in the ongoing tour match for Sussex and took three for 70 in the first innings.
He said: "I am excited. I'm delighted for the call-up and I am really looking forward to joining up with the squad. Old Trafford is a pitch I've got a good record on and I've taken a lot of wickets."