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Morgan sure Hales won't be needed as Roy battles injury


Eoin Morgan in the nets after recovering from back spasms
Eoin Morgan in the nets after recovering from back spasms
Jason Roy is out with a hamstring tear

By Rory Dollard

Eoin Morgan cannot say if Alex Hales would be welcomed back into England's World Cup dressing room but is willing to give Jason Roy every chance to prove a replacement batsman will not be needed.

Captain Morgan has recovered well from the back spasm which saw him limp from the field during last week's victory over the West Indies and plans to play against Afghanistan today, but there was worse news over Roy.

An MRI scan revealed the Surrey opener had torn his left hamstring and would miss the game at Old Trafford as well as Friday's Headingley date with Sri Lanka. England have not made the grade of the tear public.

With James Vince lined up to deputise, England are keen to avoid rushing to conclusions on Roy's prognosis, but the possibility of an injury call-up before the competition ends has brought Hales' name into the frame.

The experienced 30-year-old was inked into the squad until news broke that he was serving a 21-day ban for twice breaching the ECB's recreational drugs policy, opening the door for Vince.

Morgan said last month there had been "a complete breakdown in trust" between Hales and his team-mates, with the implication being that bridging the gap would be a long-term process.

With question marks now surrounding Roy's readiness, Morgan hinted that national selector Ed Smith could be the man to determine Hales' fate.

"It would be a case of speaking to Ed because ultimately Ed gets the final call and say," he said. "Then it's addressing how that would look in a changing room. I've not been part of any discussions because I've been focused on managing the players and everything else that's ongoing.

"When we selected the squad we did have conversations on underlying replacements for particular players. They are always ongoing in the background and I'm not involved in a lot of them."

Morgan went on to suggest that Hales might not be welcomed with open arms.

"If Ed Smith came to myself and (head coach) Trevor Bayliss and said he felt that Alex was the best option, we would have to assess how that would sit in the changing room," he said.

For now, it is Roy's fitness that is concentrating England's minds. They will hope he is not missed in this week's double-header against two nations who have failed to gather any traction so far, but his fearless hitting could be a priceless commodity at the business end.

The group stage wraps up against Australia, India and New Zealand, all of whom are likely semi-final opponents should England reach the final four. With Roy in tow, any assignment looks more manageable.

"He's in the best form of his life. So he's very important," said Morgan. "I believe Jason will play again in this tournament."

Seamer Liam Plunkett was absent from nets due to illness and is likely to make way for spin bowling all-rounder Moeen Ali.

Morgan also confirmed Vince would play and open the batting, Joe Root returning to No.3 despite his unbeaten century while deputising for Roy last time out.

Meanwhile, Shakib Al Hasan's 124 inspired Bangladesh to beat West Indies after being set 322 - the second highest chase in World Cup history.

Belfast Telegraph


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