England could name as many as six debutants in their starting XI when they take on Ireland on May 8.
Northamptonshire’s David Willey has earned his first call-up, having already spent time with England Lions previously.
He will join Hampshire’s James Vince, Kent’s Sam Billing, Somerset’s Lewis Gregory, and Zafar Ansari and Jason Roy, both of Surrey.
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The new-look side go into the game as favourites, but head coach Peter Moores will be aware that victory is certainly far from a formality. After all, Ireland have beaten England in recent memory, triumphing over their neighbours in the 2011 ICC World Cup.
England are also unlikely to be at their most confident, having endured another tough World Cup earlier this year.
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Several of England’s star names will not be making the trip; record-breaker James Anderson is set to enjoy a well-earned rest, alongside Stuart Broad and Ian Bell.
The Indian Premier League is partly at fault, having bereaved England of one-day captain Eoin Morgan, who will instead take up his bat with Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The Irish-born batsman will avoid any split loyalties because England are allowing him leave to take up his IPL duties.
That will leave Nottinghamshire’s James Taylor in charge of the Three Lions for the first time. Taylor has impressed since England selector James Whitaker finally gave in to the nationwide clamour to have him selected, and it is remarkable that he has cemented his place in the squad so quickly, culminating in the award of the captaincy.
Another interesting position to watch will be that of the wicket-keeper. Billings will vie with familiar face Jonny Bairstow, but the latter has the rest of the West Indies tour to prove his irreplaceability.
Officially, there will be nothing to play for in Dublin. For a number of England players, however, there is a great deal at stake. Steven Finn and Tim Bresnan have both spent much time on the fringes of the England squad over the last couple of years, so every opportunity to demonstrate their worth is invaluable.
The Ireland match could serve as the perfect chance for England to renew some confidence; on the other hand, May 8 could prove an unneeded banana skin.
England squad in full: James Taylor (c), Zafar Ansari, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Sam Billings (wkt), Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn, Lewis Gregory, Alex Hales, Jason Roy, James Vince, David Willey
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