Moeen set to play despite side strain
England are confident that Moeen Ali will be fit to play in the second Investec Ashes Test despite the spinning allrounder suffering a side strain*. Moeen had a scan on the injury, which did not reveal a tear, and was able to bowl in the nets on Wednesday.
Provided he does not suffer a reaction overnight, he will take his place in an unchanged XI at Lord's. England have Adil Rashid in their 13-man squad but he has sustained a finger problem, leaving Alastair Cook to hope that Moeen can make it through five days. No back-up spinner has been called upon.
Moeen did not take part in net practice on Tuesday but batted and bowled on Wednesday, with a final assessment on his fitness to be made in the morning. At the captain's press conference, Cook said he expected Moeen to be okay and that his lack of training was "precautionary".
Rashid, the Yorkshire legspinner who is uncapped at Test level, would have been in line to replace an unfit Moeen but he has also picked up an injury and did not bowl in the nets on Wednesday. Rashid had been told to be ready to play by the England management but reported a minor abrasion to his spinning finger that he felt could compromise his performance.
The uncertainty threatens to disrupt England's attempts to take a grip on the series. Moeen played a key role in England going 1-0 up in Cardiff, scoring 77 in the first innings and following up with five wickets in the match. He has become England's No. 1 spinner since the retirement of Graeme Swann, despite some attempts to paint him as a "part-time" bowler.
Cook said a decision would be made on Thursday morning but he was hopeful that Moeen would be passed fit. Moeen missed England's first Test in the West Indies earlier in the year because of a side strain and Cook said the medical staff were monitoring him closely with the quick turnaround from Cardiff to Lord's.
"He felt his side a tiny bit after the last game and, with his previous history, the medical team were wrapping him in cotton wool,'' he said. "We'll make a final call tomorrow but it was more precautionary yesterday."
"I don't think it's the same injury. It's like always when you've got two games back to back, you're a little bit careful with training. But unless he gets a reaction overnight I expect him to be in our side.''
*18.30 BST - This story was updated with new information
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo