England in West Indies 2015 March 18, 2015

Lyth, Wood and Rashid in Test squad

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Hopps: Trott's return is a testimony to his strong character

England have included three uncapped players in their squad for the three-Test tour of the West Indies, which takes place next month. Jonathan Trott returns, as expected, while Adam Lyth, Adil Rashid and Mark Wood are the players in line for potential debuts. Sam Robson, who opened the batting last year, has been dropped.

Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes have also been left out of the 16-man party, due to injury, but Alastair Cook has otherwise been given as strong a squad as possible as he resumes the captaincy ahead of a gruelling schedule that will see England play 17 Tests between April and the end of January.

After England's dismal World Cup, which saw them embarrassed in the group stage, Peter Moores will hope the Test team can pick up where they left off in August, when completing a 3-1 series win over India. West Indies are No. 8 on the ICC Test rankings, while England are No. 3, and anything other than a comfortable victory will increase the pressure on Moores ahead of an Ashes summer.

The identity of Cook's opening partner for the West Indies has been the subject of much conjecture over the winter, with Lyth and Trott now seemingly in competition to replace Robson. Lyth managed one half-century on the England Lions tour of South Africa in January - one more than Robson and Alex Lees - but made a big impression last season, when he finished as the leading run-scorer in Division One of the Championship, with 1489 at 67.68, and was named PCA and Cricket Writers' Club Player of the Year.

Trott, meanwhile, has only opened once before in a Test but has said he is happy to do the job again. That looks his most likely route back into the side, with Gary Ballance having settled into the No. 3 spot.

Ben Stokes, who was controversially left out of England's World Cup squad, is included and could find himself back in the XI after Woakes was ruled out by a foot injury. Stokes' Durham team-mate Wood is viewed as one of the quickest bowlers on the county circuit and will provide further fast-bowling options alongside Liam Plunkett, one of six Yorkshiremen in the squad.

Moeen's side strain means that England will turn to either Rashid or James Tredwell - whose only Test cap came in Bangladesh five years ago - to fill the spinner's role. Moeen could still play a part in the tour but has been given the opportunity to fully recover.

The recall for Rashid, who played the last of his ten limited-overs internationals in 2009, is reward for progress made under Jason Gillespie at Yorkshire. Rashid has been included in previous Test squads but was in danger of becoming viewed as a lost talent. Last year, however, his legspin claimed 49 wickets at 24.81 as Yorkshire won the Championship and his batting has also developed significantly, with five hundreds in two seasons.

Middlesex's Australia-born opener Robson is the one player from England's last Test, against India at The Oval, discarded for reasons other than fitness. He made one century and one fifty in seven Tests against Sri Lanka and India and an average of 30.54 was not deemed sufficient to extend further chances. The second opener's slot has been a troublesome issue ever since the retirement of Andrew Strauss but either Lyth or Trott should now get a chance to settle in the role before the Ashes, with two home Tests against New Zealand following three in the Caribbean.

"This series marks the start of a busy period of Test match cricket for the England team and I am sure that Alastair and the players will all be keen to build on the success they enjoyed last summer against India," James Whitaker, the national selector, said.

"Jonathan Trott produced some outstanding performances for Warwickshire last summer, scoring five centuries, and also made an unbeaten double-hundred during the recent successful England Lions tour. He is a player of proven international pedigree and we are delighted to welcome him back into the squad. Adam, Adil and Mark are all players who have performed impressively over the last 12 months and they will now have an opportunity to push for a regular place in the Test side's starting line-up."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

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