The ECB have arranged for Nottinghamshire batsman James Taylor to turn out for Sussex against Australia in the tour match at Hove this weekend.
It is believed this is so the selectors can take a look at the diminutive right hander ahead of the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford.
With Kevin Pietersen doubtful with a calf injury picked up on the third day at Lord's, the England selectors have given the strongest indication yet that Taylor is his likely replacement.
England find themselves 2-0 up in an Ashes series for the first time since 1986-87 after a 14-run win at Trent Bridge and a 347-run annihilation at Lords inside four days.
Taylor has been in sparkling form batting at No. 4 for Nottinghamshire this year and is desperate to add to the two caps he won against South Africa last summer.
On debut at Headingley, Taylor contributed 34 to a partnership of 147 with Pietersen and certainly did not appear overwhelmed by the occasion or the world-class opposition.
Since then, the Nottinghamshire man has found himself out of favour with the England selectors but has been in scintillating form, both for his county and the England Lions, who he led on a tour to Australia last winter.
He was one of few players to come away from a difficult tour with his burgeoning reputation enhanced.
This season Taylor has averaged more than 58 in the county championship and upwards of 100 in the Yorkshire Bank 40.
The highlight of his season came against Sussex, the county he will represent this weekend, as he scored 204 not out last month.
Other batsmen tipped to replace Pietersen in the middle order are current one-day specialists Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara, the uncapped Yorkshireman Gary Ballance and recently dropped opener Nick Compton.
Compton remains a long shot; the selectors see him as a specialist opener and Joe Root's superb 180 at Lords make a re-shuffle of the order unlikely.
Another possibility is the selection of a second spinner. Lancashire's Simon Kerrigan or the more experienced Monty Panesar could be in line for a call up with England playing on an Old Trafford track that is conducive to spin.
This would likely see England go with five bowling options and Matt Prior moving up the order to six.
Taylor's selection remains the most likely option as coach Andy Flower famously likes to have six specialist top order batsmen in front of wicketkeeper Prior.
Graham Gooch, England's batting coach, was quick to mention Taylor's name when quizzed on Pietersen's injury on Sunday.
Of Taylor, Flower said to BBC Sport: "This will provide him with a valuable opportunity to play in a longer format while we consider our options."
Nottighamshire coach Mick Newell, who backed Taylor for a recall earlier in the week, was very keen for the batsman to turn out for Sussex as the Trent Bridge side don't have a 4-day fixture until August 2nd.
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