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Joe Denly tests out the ankle he hurt before the start of England

Joe Denly is fighting to be fit for first Test against New Zealand as Jonny Bairstow waits in the wings to replace him in England’s 15-man squad

  • Joe Denly returned to training on Thursday after suffering an ankle problem
  • He is aiming to prove his fitness ahead of England’s first Test with New Zealand
  • Jonny Bairstow will be called up to replace him in the squad if he fails to recover
  • Ex-New Zealand star Shane Bond is keen to become England’s bowling coach 
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Joe Denly is touch and go to recover from injury in time for England’s first Test against New Zealand later this month, with Jonny Bairstow set to replace him if he doesn’t make the cut.

Denly took part in training on Thursday ahead of the fourth Twenty20 international, running on the McLean Park outfield to test out the right ankle he twisted before the start of the series, and batting in the nets.

But he will need to play in one of England’s two red-ball warm-up games in Whangarei next week in order to prove his fitness for the two-Test series, starting in Mount Maunganui on November 21.

Joe Denly tests out the ankle he hurt before the start of England's T20 series with New Zealand

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Joe Denly tests out the ankle he hurt before the start of England’s T20 series with New Zealand

After struggling in the first two Ashes Tests in August, Denly earned his place on tour with three half-centuries in his final five innings against Australia, including a career-best 94 to set up England’s series-levelling victory at The Oval. 

But he is not so indispensable that he can afford to miss a series, especially at the age of 33, and with captain Joe Root already focussed on regaining the urn in 2021-22.

If Denly misses the cut, his place in England’s 15-man squad – all of whom have now arrived in New Zealand ahead of Tuesday’s first practice match – is set to go to Bairstow, despite originally being dropped for this series after a disappointing Ashes.

James Vince was also in contention for a recall after inspiring England to victory in the first T20 game at Christchurch. But Bairstow – who would most likely play as a specialist No 3, with Jos Buttler keeping wicket – has been given the nod.

Denly throws a ball during a nets session as he looks to prove his fitness for the upcoming Tests

Denly throws a ball during a nets session as he looks to prove his fitness for the upcoming Tests

Denly throws a ball during a nets session as he looks to prove his fitness for the upcoming Tests

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Meanwhile, former New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond has said he would be interested in becoming England’s full-time bowling coach after working as a consultant for Joe Root’s team for the first two Tests of the 2017-18 Ashes.

Bond, who took 87 wickets at just 22 apiece during an injury-hit 18-Test career, has stepped in to help New Zealand’s fast bowlers while Shane Jurgensen takes a break.

Asked if he fancied a crack at the England job, which will be filled during the build-up to the Tests by Darren Gough, Bond replied: ‘Yeah, definitely. Whatever you’re doing as a coach, you want something that’s going to excite you, hopefully make you better, and present a different opportunity. You look at everything that comes across your door.’

Jonny Bairstow will replace Denly in the England squad if he doesn't full recover from injury

Jonny Bairstow will replace Denly in the England squad if he doesn't full recover from injury

Jonny Bairstow will replace Denly in the England squad if he doesn’t full recover from injury

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