Ollie Robinson is set to miss England’s series decider in the West Indies after another fitness setback.
The Sussex seamer had been earmarked for a key role in the Caribbean after senior bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad were left out of the squad, but now looks certain to complete the tour without making a single appearance.
Robinson suffered a back spasm during the warm-up match and was subsequently ruled out of drawn games in Antigua and Barbados.
England were hopeful that he would be ready for action in time to line up in Thursday’s winner-takes-all third Test in Grenada, but have now made alternative plans after the 28-year-old struggled to reach 100 per cent during a net session on Tuesday.
Craig Overton also missed out at the Kensington Oval due to illness but he came through the session strongly and is expected to take over from Matthew Fisher in the only change to the England XI.
Robinson’s lifestyle and conditioning were publicly questioned during this winter’s Ashes, mirroring private concerns within the management group, but it is understood things have been improving since Australia.
“The two of them trained and Ollie wasn’t as good as we would have liked or he was expecting himself,” said captain Joe Root.
“It’s just frustrating for him as it is for me. He’s working very hard but there’s something that’s nagging away at him. I’m not sure exactly of the medical prognosis.
“He’s just got to keep on doing what he’s doing and trust in time that he’s going to get himself back.
“We all know how effective he has been and how good he’s been in his short career up to now so the sooner we can get him back the better.”
Had Robinson been available, England may have chosen to stand down Chris Woakes after two long, hard and ultimately disappointing outings for the all-rounder.
He should now get one more chance to make an impact, with Saqib Mahmood due to keep his place after an impressive debut and Overton reclaiming his place from Fisher, who stepped in at late notice last week.
The prospects of a second spinner, in the shape of Lancashire leggie Matt Parkinson, have receded given the prospect of a greener, livelier surface.
“I think we’re looking forward to a wicket with a bit more grass on it, as all of our seamers will be. By all accounts that’s what we’re expecting here.”