England have Chris Woakes, their player of the year, back in their Test squad in time for the business end of the India series.
But they will be without keeper batsman Jos Buttler for the crucial clash while he remains with his wife who is expecting their second child.
Jonny Bairstow will take the gloves on Thursday in Buttler’s absence with Sam Billings returning to the squad as keeper cover.
Depending on the precise timing of the birth of baby Buttler, there is a strong chance that Bairstow will stay in his preferred role at Old Trafford as well.
And with huge uncertainty over families in Australia, Buttler could also miss the Ashes this winter.
If, as expected, Woakes plays at the Oval, it will be his first appearance in England whites since being named their player of 2020 due to covid issues, rest and rotation and a heel injury understood to have been aggravated by falling down the stairs.
Woakes and England will hope that his run of bad luck is well and truly over if he is picked to replace a rested Jimmy Anderson who is leading the attack brilliantly, but is in the red zone where injury is likely.
Mark Wood is also in line for a recall to the side after recovering from a shoulder injury to give England a pace option they missed in Leeds.
Head coach Chris Silverwood said: "It is very pleasing that we have Chris Woakes returning to the Test squad.
"He is an asset we have been missing both with the ball and his ability to score runs in the middle order.
"He has bowled well over the past week with Warwickshire without any real concerns with his heel injury.
"We would like to wish Jos and his family all the very best for the impending birth of their second child.
"Unfortunately, he will miss this Test, and we’ll then see if he returns for the final Test at Emirates Old Trafford."
Source: Read Full Article