England news February 18, 2017

Wood pulls out of England Lions tour

ESPNcricinfo staff

Mark Wood bowls at the ECB's Pace Programme training camp in Potchefstroom © Gallo Images/Getty Images

England have withdrawn fast bowler Mark Wood from the Lions' one-day series against Sri Lanka A next month, a move that will raise concerns about his ability to return from a third round of ankle surgery.

The ECB has suggested that his recovery remains on track following an operation on a severed bone in his left ankle last year. He bowled flat out for the first time with the England Pace Programme in Potchefstroom in January and it is hoped he will make his comeback in the North-South series in the second half of March.

He was only added to the Lions squad a few weeks ago but ECB medical staff have now decided that he would be better served by continuing his rehabilitation over the next few weeks at home. The North-South series takes place in the UAE from March 17.

Discussing his rehabilitation, Wood recently admitted he had doubts he would "ever be the same bowler" but said he was working on making minor adjustments to his action while building up to match fitness.

"Last year I got in the habits of putting my game-time first and neglected the training side a little bit," he said. "I now need to get my action solid as a rock, like it was when I made my debut for England."

Wood played four ODIs towards the end of last season, having broken down on the tour of the UAE in 2015, but he then suffered a different injury while bowling for Durham in a Championship match.

With question marks over the effectiveness of England's white-ball pace attack, Wood's ability to bowl at 90mph would likely see him come into contention for the Champions Trophy - if he can prove his fitness. His last Test appearance came in 2015 but England may still harbour hopes of taking him on the Ashes tour of Australia next winter.

No replacement has been named for the Lions, with the squad already featuring seamers Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Craig Overton, James Fuller and Tom Helm. The first unofficial ODI takes place in Dambulla on March 2.

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