Joe Root has been handed another opportunity to enhance his burgeoning reputation after it was confirmed the young Yorkshireman will open the batting with Alastair Cook against Essex in England's only pre-Ashes warm-up match.
The 22-year-old has established himself as the rising star of English cricket since making his international debut against India last winter, with one century and two 50s in his six Test matches so far.
Root has, however, yet to open the batting for England - his favoured position for Yorkshire - with Nick Compton having played at the top of the order since the retirement of captain Andrew Strauss at the end of last summer.
Compton has been completely left out of the 14-man squad to face Essex at Chelmsford, with the England selectors providing the clearest indication yet the Somerset player will lose his place for the Ashes.
The 29-year-old has scored only 54 runs in his last six Test innings and, although Compton has returned to form for Somerset, he finds himself discarded in favour of Root ahead of the Ashes next month.
"This match is a vital part of our preparations for the Investec Ashes after a period of limited overs cricket for a large number of the squad," said national selector Geoff Miller.
"We believe Joe Root is currently the best opening partner for Alastair Cook and he will open the batting against Essex.
"Joe has performed well for Yorkshire at the top of the order earlier this season and during his international career so far has proven to be very adaptable in all three formats and relished the challenge of international cricket."
Kevin Pietersen returns to the England squad having missed three months of action with a knee injury, with the batsman having scored an unbeaten 177 for Surrey in his first innings since the tour of New Zealand.
There is also a place for the uncapped Boyd Rankin in the party for the meeting with Essex, which begins at the County Ground on Saturday.
England squad to face Essex:
Alastair Cook (Essex) (Capt)
James Anderson (Lancashire)
Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)
Ian Bell (Warwickshire)
Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire)
Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire)
Steven Finn (Middlesex)
Graham Onions (Durham)
Kevin Pietersen (Surrey)
Matt Prior (Sussex)
Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire)
Joe Root (Yorkshire)
Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire)
Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)
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