James Anderson is set to lead England's attack in the third and final Test against Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl on Thursday, after being named in a 12-man squad at the expense of Surrey's Jade Dernbach.
Anderson missed the second Test at Lord's after suffering a side strain during the first innings of the Cardiff Test, but he was optimistic of a quick return and will be officially passed fit provided he successfully negotiates Lancashire's Friends Life Twenty20 match against Worcestershire on Sunday.
Anderson comes into the squad for Dernbach, who came close to making his Test debut at Lord's before the selectors decided to go with the extra height of Steven Finn. As it turns out, the lack of variety in England's attack was exposed at Lord's, with Tillakaratne Dilshan leading the way for Sri Lanka with an excellent 193.
England National Selector, Geoff Miller, said: "Jimmy Anderson is the leader of our bowling attack so clearly he will be a significant inclusion should he get through Lancashire's Friends Life Twenty20 match against Worcestershire unscathed.
"Side strains can be particularly troublesome for bowlers but given Jimmy's injury was a grade one strain and therefore a low grade injury, he is expected to be fit for selection. A period of rest and recovery has certainly been beneficial and we obviously wouldn't include Jimmy in the squad if the medical staff weren't confident of his fitness."
Anderson looked in prime form in Cardiff as he took 3 for 66 before picking up his injury on the second afternoon, although it didn't stop him being the nightwatchman. Then, in his absence, England's three-man attack completed a stunning victory on the final afternoon as Sri Lanka were skittled for 82.
"It's been a tough week because I can honestly say I haven't felt a moment of discomfort since the diagnosis was made so I do believe I probably could have bowled in their second innings," Anderson told last week's The Mail on Sunday. "I fully understand the position of the medical staff; this is going to be a long summer and there was no point in taking a risk. But it may have been something that felt worse than it was because of the cold and windy weather."
"I had mixed emotions as events unfolded on the last day in Cardiff," he added. "It was fantastic to see us doing so well, taking the wickets and winning but, at the same time, it was tough to watch them all celebrating and not be involved on the pitch."
Assuming Anderson comes through his match against Worcestershire, England may face a tough decision as to which of their seamers to omit for the Rose Bowl.Stuart Broad's recent appointment as England Twenty20 captain is an acknowledgement of his senior status within the England squad. Nevertheless, his record in red-ball cricket is becoming something of a concern, with his two wickets at Lord's costing 154 and coming at 3.75 an over. After 36 Tests, he still averages an unworthy 35.97.
"I don't think he's quite getting the rub of the green at the moment," said Andrew Strauss after the Lord's Test. "He's bowled some very good balls that are passing the edge, and has probably bowled better than the statistics say. But all of us have to keep trying to improve, and make sure our performances get better."
The likelier man to miss out is Steven Finn, who became the youngest England bowler to reach 50 Test wickets during the Lord's Test, but who leaked his runs at close to 4 an over and appeared to be lacking in rhythm in the early part of Sri Lanka's innings.
"I think Steven Finn got a lot better as the game went on," said Strauss. "He'd been out of the side a little bit, so I suppose he had every right to feel a bit anxious at the start. But all our bowlers bring something different, and certainly Jimmy does with his consistent lines and swinging it a bit more than the others. We are very hopeful he'll be fit."
England squad Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Chris Tremlett, James Anderson, Steven Finn.