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Recuperating Wood added to England Lions squad

Mark Wood, recovering from ankle surgery, is currently in South Africa with the Pace Programme Getty Images

Mark Wood is set to make his return to competitive action earlier than anticipated, when England Lions take on Sri Lanka A in five one-day matches in March, after he was added to the original 14-man squad, alongside the Northamptonshire spinner Graeme White.

Wood, who is currently in South Africa with England cricket's Pace Programme, has been working his way back to full fitness after an ankle operation in October that ruled him out of the senior tour of India.

He had originally been planning to make his comeback in the three-match North v South 50-over series that takes place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi after the Lions tour, but his recuperation appears to be firmly on track.

Wood has spent the months since his surgery working alongside Kevin Shine, the ECB's lead fast-bowling coach, working on subtle adjustments to his explosive bowling action that has enabled him to hit speeds in excess of 90mph but has placed extreme stresses on his fragile body.

"People have said you need to change your action but, if I change my action, I will just end up with a bad knee or a bad back," he told ESPNcricinfo earlier this month. "I have one bad joint because of the way I splay out my front foot.

"It's great to work through this with Kevin Shine," he added. "I trust him. When I first got into England Lions he was my bowling coach and he knows everything about it. He knows when my bowling action was strong. "

James Whitaker, England cricket's National Selector, believed that the inclusions of Wood and White would work out well for both the players, as well as the squad as a whole.

White, who joined the Lions in their final preparations for Sri Lanka at England cricket's Performance Centre in Loughborough last week, fills a vacancy for a left-arm spinner that had been left by the selectors last December when they named separate squads for the one-day series and the two four-day matches against Sri Lanka A that precede it.

"We had always been planning to add a left-arm spinner to the 14 players we named last month for the one-day series, and Graeme White deserves this chance after his performances for Northamptonshire in county cricket last summer which had already earned him a place in the North team through the PCA's Most Valuable Player rankings.

"Mark Wood will also be a valuable addition to the Lions squad, and in his case the one-day series in Sri Lanka is a good opportunity for him to start bowling again in competitive cricket before the North-South series and then the domestic 2017 season."

The 15-man squad for the two four-day matches against Sri Lanka A in Kandy and Dambulla, which will be preceded by a three-day warm-up match at a venue still to be finalised, will leave for Colombo next Monday (February 6).

The six players who have been selected for the one-day leg of the tour only - Daniel Bell-Drummond, Ben Duckett, James Fuller, Josh Poysden, White and Wood - will join the squad later in the month in Dambulla, the venue for the second four-day match and the first two matches of the one-day series.