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Foster and Mahmood get England boost

Essex wicketkeeper James Foster and Sajid Mahmood, the Lancashire fast bowler, have been given further hope of international recalls after being named in the ECB's 25-man performance squad

Cricinfo staff
James Foster brings out the paddle-sweep during a vital stand with Grant Flower, Kent v Essex, Friends Provident Trophy final, Lord's, August 16, 2008

James Foster could be in line for an international return after finding a place in England's performance squad  •  Getty Images

Essex wicketkeeper James Foster and Lancashire fast bowler Sajid Mahmood have been given further hope of international recalls after being named in the ECB's 25-man performance squad. Samit Patel and Amjad Khan, who both made their international debuts over the last 12 months, are also included.
The squad, which is chosen by the England selectors, consists of the 12 players currently holding 12-month ECB contracts, plus the seven on increment deals. It enables the selectors to keep tabs on players they think are likely to play a part during the home season.
Patel has been included despite being dropped from England's one-day squad to face West Indies because of poor fitness levels. In Amjad's case the selectors can monitor his recovery from the knee injury that forced him to fly home from West Indies a few days early. Adil Rashid, the Yorkshire legspinner, who toured India and West Indies is the only player not capped at either Test or one-day level.
"The England performance squad is designed to allow us to monitor the development of international players and better prepare them for the demands of the international game," Geoff Miller, the national selector, said. "The selectors can name up to 30 players in the EPS, but we have decided to keep five places vacant at present in order to give ourselves greater flexibility and we will reserve the right to add further players to the squad if their performances in domestic cricket merit it.
"Two players who have earned the right to be in the squad are James Foster and Sajid Mahmood. They are pressing for a place in the England squads and we will watch Mahmood , Foster and Rashid with interest when they play for the MCC against Durham at Lord's this weekend. Samit Patel, like Amjad Khan, has already been in the international set up in the last 12 months."
Five players who made last year's list - Michael Carberry, Matthew Hoggard, Phil Mustard, James Tredwell and Chris Tremlett - haven't found spaces this time around and in Hoggard's case it makes any international return extremely unlikely.
Performance squad Tim Ambrose (Warwickshire) + , James Anderson (Lancashire) *, Ian Bell (Warwickshire) *, Ravi Bopara (Essex) + , Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire) *, Paul Collingwood (Durham)*, Alastair Cook (Essex)*, Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire) * , James Foster (Essex), Stephen Harmison (Durham)*, Robert Key (Kent), Amjad Khan (Kent), Dimitri Mascarenhas (Hampshire), Sajid Mahmood (Lancashire), Monty Panesar (Northamptonshire)*, Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire)+, Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire)*, Matthew Prior (Sussex) +, Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Owais Shah (Middlesex) +, Andrew Strauss (Middlesex)*, Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire)*, Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire) +, Michael Vaughan (Yorkshire)*, Luke Wright (Sussex) +
* denotes centrally contracted player
+ denotes players on ECB increment contracts