England’s men have suffered another blow in their bid to regain the Ashes after batter Ollie Pope was ruled out of the rest of the series with a shoulder injury.
The hosts, already without key bowlers Jofra Archer and Jack Leach, trail 2-0 ahead of this week’s potentially decisive third Test match at Headingley.
And now they have been forced to patch up their team further after Pope suffered a dislocated right shoulder amid controversy in England’s second Test defeat at Lord’s.
Essex batter Dan Lawrence, who has not played for England since Ben Stokes became captain and Brendon McCullum head coach last year, is the most likely man to come in and bat at No3.
Pope sustained the injury while fielding during Australia’s first innings. He then aggravated it when diving for a catch in the second innings.
That aspect may be particularly hard to swallow for England coaches, who substituted Pope after his initial injury but were incorrectly told that he had to field in the second innings.
The 25-year-old, who has previously dislocated his left shoulder twice, is to undergo surgery and will spend the rest of the summer recuperating.
Should Stokes and McCullum want a less obvious option than Lawrence, they could recall Moeen Ali and reshuffle the batting order.
Emotions are running high ahead of the third Test on Thursday, which comes just four days after the second match at Lord’s ended in acrimony.
England continue to harbour a sense of injustice about Australia’s controversial stumping of Johnny Bairstow during the second innings.
Australia, meanwhile, have insisted that they have no regret despite being labelled cheats and even barracked by some Lord’s members.