England spots for Footitt, Plunkett

The selectors decided at their meeting on Saturday morning to cover all bases in the absence of England's all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson, who will miss Nottingham with the side strain he suffered in the eight-wicket victory at Edgbaston.

England will take a 2-1 lead, and the chance to regain the urn, on the short trip east for a match starting on Thursday, with Derbyshire left-armer Footitt and Yorkshire seamer Plunkett both on board.

There are no further changes to a winning squad, Mark Wood most likely to return to the team in place of Anderson after sitting out Birmingham with an ankle niggle and opener Adam Lyth also retained despite his moderate current form.

Footitt, 29, has been a revelation with his prolific wicket-taking in Division Two of the LV= County Championship over the past two seasons - and he gives England the left-arm option they have been missing for so long.

He began his career with Nottinghamshire, but a dream debut on his old home ground at Trent Bridge is still a long shot - with Wood, and probably Plunkett too, more obvious choices.

National selector James Whitaker said: "With James Anderson missing this Test through injury and some concerns over Mark Wood's workload in the build-up to the last Test, we felt that bringing in two extra bowlers in Liam Plunkett and Mark Footitt was necessary.

"The reports on Wood are positive at this stage and we are hopeful he'll be available for selection on Thursday."

Thirty-year-old Plunkett played the last of his 13 Tests, spread over almost a decade, against India more than 12 months ago.

But he was back in the reckoning after injury on England's Test tour of the Caribbean in April and May, and like Footitt was part of the pre-Ashes trip to Spain when Alastair Cook's squad had the chance to get to know new coach Trevor Bayliss for the first time.

Whitaker added: "Congratulations to Liam and Mark Footitt on their selection - and on behalf of the selectors, I'd like to wish Alastair and Trevor all the very best for the fourth Test.

"The performance at Edgbaston this week was very encouraging, and it is important we build on that next week at Trent Bridge."

Bayliss is challenging England to break their run of inconsistency when they need to most, with the prize of the Ashes in their sights.

England will regain the urn if they can add a second successive win to the success they wrapped up inside three days in Birmingham.

Cook's team are, however, also officially the most inconsistent ever in Test cricket, having followed each of their last three victories with a defeat, dating back to the Caribbean four months ago.

Should they do so for a fourth time, the Ashes will be all square going into a decider at The Oval later this month.

Bayliss has reason to hope, after a convincing performance to go one up with two to play, that they may be able to break the sequence against his native country.

"The way the boys are playing at the moment is very good. Obviously the challenge is to play as well two games in a row," he said.

"Apart from the three or four experienced boys in this team, we have got a reasonably young team."

England's win in the third Test was a remarkable turnaround from their embarrassing 405-run defeat at Lord's 12 days earlier.

Bayliss added: "It's a good sign they're able to put that behind them, put it down to a bad performance, and they were very honest in the changing room afterwards.

"They were disappointed and a little embarrassed, I think, by the way they played [at Lord's].

"I think to move forward you've got to admit your mistakes, be honest with yourself, and they certainly.

"If you do that you're able to move forward, and they showed what they're capable of."

Bayliss, speaking before the squad was announced, also hinted - like Cook and Whitaker - that Wood will be the preferred choice to return to the team and complete a frontline pace contingent headed by Stuart Broad and Steven Finn.

Broad needs just one more wicket, on his home ground, to become only the fifth Englishman to reach 300 in Tests while Finn returned after a two-year hiatus in his career at the highest level with a man-of-the-match haul of eight for 117 as he and Anderson ensured Australia were twice bowled out cheaply.

Bayliss said: "Woody, we're still not really sure of at the moment, (but) he is improving each day, so we hope he's right for Trent Bridge.

"But there's one or two other guys who've been mentioned in dispatches around the squad since I've been here.

"Those guys will be spoken about and get the first opportunity if needed."

They have turned out to be Plunkett and Footitt, for whom - in that order of probability - opportunity knocks.

  Mark Footitt could make a Test debut at Trent Bridge
Mark Footitt could make a Test debut at Trent Bridge