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Wood fears the chop as competition for places hots up

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Wood keen to avoid second Test slip-up (1:02)

England's Mark Wood wants to pile the pressure on South Africa with a win in the second Investec Test match. (1:02)

England look set to name an unchanged team for the second Test, but the sight of Chris Woakes and Jake Ball back in training suggested selection could become highly competitive before the end of the summer.

Woakes and Ball, who have so far missed out on selection in the series against South Africa due to injury, both enjoyed a gentle bowl at Trent Bridge as England prepared for the second Test that begins on Friday.

While neither are ready to return just yet, Mark Wood - who returned to the side for the first Test at Lord's - admitted he might not have made the side had they been fit, and accepted that the battle for places could become intense when all are available.

Wood's hope is that he can, for the first time in his career, play three Tests in succession in the same series. While he has played four successive Tests, he has only managed to do when there has been a gap of several weeks between series. And he admits that, so concerned was he by the injuries he has suffered in the past, that he thought his Test career might be over.

"It's no secret that I thought Test cricket was probably gone at one stage," Wood said. "One wicket at Lord's might not sound good but I was pleased with how I bowled and it was a proud moment to come back in the Test arena.

"We have bowlers waiting in the wings. Probably if they were fit, I wouldn't have played. Chris Woakes had a great year and it will be interesting to see what happens when he's back playing.

"The challenge becomes to prove to you guys, to my team-mates and the coaches that I can play three in a row. I have to keep these guys out of the team and that's the challenge.

"I feel good, which is rare for me. It's surreal to back games up and not worry but I'm delighted."

Wood, at least, has happy memories of Trent Bridge. Not only did he claim the Ashes-clinching wicket of Nathan Lyon here in 2015 - Lyon tried to leave one but dragged it on to his stumps - but he has claimed 15 wickets in three first-class matches there for Durham, including one of his six five-wicket hauls (5 for 78 in 2012) and one of his two half-centuries (58 not out in 2013). Oddly, his three games there were his first three Championship matches.

"Yes, it's nice to be back here," he said. "When you're struggling, you visualise times when you've done well. This is a ground where I've always done well here, even for Durham. The night before, if I'm selected, I'll be thinking about that and visualising running in."

Wood was delighted to contribute with the bat at Lord's, too. He added 45 for the ninth wicket with Jonny Bairstow in a low-scoring second innings and said he was once described as "the best No. 10 since Pele".

"I slogged it at Lord's, but that was the way to go on that wicket," he said. "When I first got into the Durham team I batted at No. 10 and Jon Lewis, the coach at the time, said I was the best No10 since Pele. I'll take that."

There is a slightly unusual look to the pitch to be used in the second Test. While it is a fresh surface - the same surface that was used for the 2015 Ashes Test in which Australia were bowled out for 60 on the first morning - it has an oddly mottled look, as if it has been used recently. Local knowledge suggests there will be movement and decent carry for the seamers.

Woakes and Ball were not the only familiar faces on view on Wednesday. Paul Franks and Ant Botha, Nottinghamshire's assistant coaches, were also involved - the England camp like to provide opportunities for county coaches to learn from their methods and provide some fresh views as appropriate - while Nottinghamshire's young batch of seamers (notably the distinctly brisk Jack Blatherwick and Matt Milnes) impressed in the nets.

Chris Read spent a while working with fellow keeper Jonny Bairstow and Matt Carter, the 21-year-old offspinner who claimed 7 for 56 on first-class debut in 2015, also bowled in the nets. Kevin Sharp was also part of the coaching team.

Jimmy Anderson did not bowl but the England camp insist he is fine and had simply elected to rest. With 53 wickets in eight Tests at an average of 19.24 at the ground, he will have liked the look of this surface.