Wheeler, Santner set to figure in selections as Kiwis deal with injuries and fatigue
Black Caps could name two debutants
Captain Brendon McCullum says uncapped pair Mitchell Santner and Ben Wheeler are both more than ready if called on to make their one-day international debuts against England.
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The 23-year-olds are prospects to play the first match of the five-game series at Birmingham on Tuesday as the tourists cope with fatigue and niggling injuries.
McCullum confirmed paceman Tim Southee will miss the game at Edgbaston to allow a recovery from his heavy workload in the drawn two-Test series.
Allrounder Corey Anderson is also an unlikely starter because of the back injury sustained in the first Test loss at Lord's. It forced him to miss the second Test victory at Headingley and the 198-run win over Leicestershire on Saturday.
Santner is an obvious option to fulfil the allrounder duties, with McCullum impressed by his output on tour which includes 2-34 off 10 overs of left-arm spin in Leicester.
The Northern Districts left-hander also scored 94 against Somerset in a warm-up match last month.
"Mitchell's an exciting player. He's very much an elegant left-handed batsman and he bowls some handy left-arm spin as well," McCullum said.
"He should get many opportunities throughout this series and hopefully he's another guy we can introduce to international cricket and he can perform from the get-go."
McCullum said the fitness of two unnamed players is being assessed, throwing some uncertainty over the balance of the team.
Veteran off-spinner Nathan McCullum, who was in the World Cup squad but didn't play a game at the tournament, wasn't selected for the Leicestershire game.
Four seamers are available for three spots, with Test pair Trent Boult and Matt Henry leading candidates after also playing in the World Cup final loss to Australia.
However, Mitchell McClenaghan and Ben Wheeler are both primed for promotion.
McClenaghan's bright form in the Indian Premier League was followed by 4-31 against Leicestershire while Wheeler's 1-36 off 10 in that game may be enough to warrant his selection.
"Ben has the potential to be outstanding," McCullum said. "He's very much in the Trent Boult mould. He swings the ball at decent pace and has fitted into the team seamlessly."
McCullum is taking little from New Zealand's eight-wicket crushing of England when the teams met in the World Cup pool stages in Wellington in February.
The skipper smashed 77 off 25 balls as the Black Caps overhauled England's 123 inside 13 overs.
He said a much-changed England squad promises plenty.
"I like look of their squad – it's a little bit raw, but they're full talented players who are aggressive with bat and ball," he said.
"It's a good shift they've made, it promises to be a good series."