Captain Eoin Morgan admits he may be forced to turn to exiled batsmen Alex Hales as England’s injury problems mount ahead of Tuesday’s game against Afghanistan at Old Trafford.
Hales was dropped from the preliminary squad in the wake of a 21-day suspension for recreational drug use that came to light just weeks before the tournament began, with Morgan saying there had been a “complete breakdown in trust” at the time.
After injuries to Jason Roy, Jos Buttler and the captain himself, Morgan says they would have to assess how his inclusion “would sit in the changing room”.
Speaking to BBC Sport ahead of tomorrow’s game in Manchester, Morgan said: “If (national selector) Ed Smith felt that Alex was the best option, we would have to assess how that would sit in the changing room and the stigma it would bring.”
Morgan maintained that despite MRI scans confirming opener Roy suffered a torn hamstring whilst fielding in England’s comfortable win over the West Indies on Friday, there had been no discussions over potential replacements should Roy fail to recover.
“It’s not a conversation that we have had with Ed Smith or (coach) Trevor Bayliss. We have not considered replacing any players yet. When we did the original selection, we outlined a number of players that could replace players if they got injured, but since then we haven’t spoken to the selection panel.”
Morgan, who limped off with a back spasm during the victory, said he was now “moving freely” but a final decision on his place in the side would be made on Tuesday morning.
If Morgan fails to recover in time, Moeen Ali may be in line for a recall. The spinner has missed his country’s past two games although England may be reluctant to opt for a second front-line spinner in light of recent weather, the success of their four-pronged seam attack and Joe Root’s useful offies. Mark Wood, who is suffering from a foot injury, may be rested.
James Vince is expected to slot in at the top of the order to replace Roy against a win-less Afghanistan side who have faltered with the bat in the tournament so far. Controversy continues to surround the decision to send wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad home with a knee injury despite Shahzad maintaining he is fit to play and Afghanistan’s useful spin attack have not yet fired in unfavourable conditions.
England will look to shrug off their injury worries when the sides meet in Manchester on Tuesday from 10:30am.