Lions in line for Ashes call-up

Mark Wood and Tom Westley front of queue for national squad recall as doubt over Stokes' availability persists

England speedster Mark Wood and batsman Tom Westley will be on hand for an Ashes call-up after being named in a 17-man Lions squad set to travel to Australia later this year.

The squad announcement has garnered additional interest following the suspension of Ben Stokes and Alex Hales from the national squad after their arrest in Bristol, with uncertainty over their Ashes availability lingering.

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Stokes’ absence in particular could open the door for one or more Lions players to be upgraded to the main squad given England’s reliance on the firebrand allrounder with both bat and ball.

Left out of the senior touring party due to fitness concerns, Wood hasn’t played an international match since sustaining a heel injury back in July while playing in the second Test against South Africa.

But the 27-year-old Durham quick, who has since played two first-class matches for returns of 4-57 and 1-66, will have a two-week training camp in Brisbane followed by an unofficial three-day match against a Queensland XI to prove he can bowl without restriction.

The Lions will then also travel to Perth to play three T20s against the Perth Scorchers.

Essex batsman Westley is another who may yet get an opportunity in England’s top order after being overlooked in favour of James Vince and Gary Ballance.

Keaton Jennings and Ben Duckett are the other two Lions squad members with Test experience, while Steve Finn and Liam Plunkett are also reportedly in the frame.

But should his body hold up, Wood appears the likely candidate to help shoulder the extra overs normally allocated to Stokes, with selectors likely to be tempted by an express bowling option on Australia’s traditionally pace-friendly wickets.

“This camp provides an opportunity for emerging young talent and some players with international experience to work hard on their game in Australia, in excellent facilities, under the guidance of Andy Flower and our other lead coaches,” said England national selector James Whitaker.

“The players selected have a range of experience, and we believe they are an exciting group.”

England Lions 17-man Squad: Dom Bess (Somerset), Joe Clarke (Worcestershire), Paul Coughlin (Durham/Nottinghamshire), Alex Davies (Lancashire), Ben Duckett (Northamptonshire), George Garton (Sussex), Nick Gubbins (Middlesex), Tom Helm (Middlesex), Keaton Jennings (Durham/Lancashire), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Liam Livingstone (Lancashire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Jamie Porter (Essex), Amar Virdi (Surrey), Tom Westley (Essex), Mark Wood (Durham)

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21