Nick Compton has made only 51 runs in five innings against Sri Lanka.

Nick Compton showed glimpses of what was needed - Paul Farbrace

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Nick Compton may have played his final Test innings after showing England's management only "glimpses" of what is required of a top-order batsman against Sri Lanka.

Compton, pressed up to open the batting in England's second innings because of Alastair Cook's absence with an injured knee, mustered only 19 before falling caught-behind on his home ground at Lord's.

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Soon to be 33, he has therefore made only 51 runs in five innings for England in the Investec series and appears vulnerable to alternative options when the squad is picked for the next Test - against Pakistan here next month.

England's assistant coach Paul Farbrace stopped well short, of course, of calling time on Compton's career at the highest level after his 16 Tests spread over four years.

But after the hosts had closed day three 237 runs in front on 109 for four as they bid for a 3-0 whitewash, Farbrace said: "It's been a tough series for him.

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"He knows that ... he doesn't need any of us to be sitting down with him saying 'you need to score more runs'.

"That's what batsmen are in the team for."

Compton admitted himself even before the second Test at Chester-le-Street that he was playing for his international future.

Farbrace added: "I've said before during this series that he's shown glimpses of (what's needed) - but glimpses of aren't always enough.

"He knows (that) himself."

Compton walked off understandably dejected at failing to take another chance to restate his credentials.

"I thought he shaped up really nicely tonight, was looking in very good touch, really composed and looked as though he was judging length exceptionally well," said Farbrace.

"He really was looking the part.

"Then he nicks one behind, and obviously you can see from his frustration how disappointed he was at that dismissal.

"We've never said we are the finished team. We know we've still got a lot of work to do.

"That's not just Compo, that's a lot of players in the team."

Farbrace was also able to confirm captain Cook has broken no bones after being hit on the left knee while fielding at silly mid-off.

Whether he bats again in this match is another matter.

"He's been and had a scan," said Farbrace.

"It is quite a nasty blow on the knee.

"The doctor has said there's no fracture there, and it will be a case of seeing how he wakes up in the morning.

"We hope he's well enough to have a hit in the nets in the morning, and see how he progresses from there.

"It will be down to how much pain he can cope with as to whether he bats or not."

England moved into a broadly advantageous position thanks to a vastly improved performance with the ball as Sri Lanka faltered from a start-of-play 162 for one to be bowled out for 288.

"We bowled much better this morning than we did yesterday," added Farbrace.

"That was the key thing.

"There was a big discussion this morning about the approach to it, making sure we got it right.

"The first over from Stuart Broad set the tone ... then Woakesy [Chris Woakes] got a wicket, and Compton made a brilliant stop."

Woakes was one of three bowlers to finish with three wickets, his team-mate Steven Finn and Sri Lanka's Nuwan Pradeep the others.

"It was disappointing to lose a few wickets tonight," said Farbrace.

"But there is something there ... Rooty [Joe Root] got one that perhaps kept a fraction lower, and a couple have nipped back.

"Woakesy showed it, and I think he's been the one throughout the game who's bowled that fuller length hard into the pitch and bowled exceptionally well.

"I'd go as far as to say I reckon that's the best I've seen him bowl for England in a Test match. I think he's been absolutely outstanding."

Sri Lanka wilted under morning cloud cover, just when it seemed they might even challenge for a first-innings lead.

Opener Dimuth Karunaratne said: "We needed more than that.

"If we'd scored more than 300 runs, I think we'd have had a good chance.

"But the bowlers did really well, and we are still in the game."

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