Injured James Anderson 'desperate' to make Ashes opener
James Anderson is ready to sit out England's first Test of the summer against Ireland but is confident a groin strain picked up on county duty will not hold him back from next month's Ashes opener.
The country's record wicket-taker pulled up sore during day one of Lancashire's county championship clash against Somerset last week and sat out the remainder of the clash.
His absence brought back memories of the 2019 series against Australia, when he battled back from a torn calf only to break down again on the first morning of the first Test, bringing an early end to his summer.
Scans allayed the worst of those fears and even allowed the 40-year-old to appear in a 15-man squad for the one-off Lord's Test against Ireland on June 1, but England may ultimately be happier to wrap their lead seamer in cotton wool ahead of the Ashes opener at Edgbaston two weeks later.
"I think I will be fit for the Ireland game. Whether I play or not is probably another matter really. I definitely don't want to risk it," said Anderson on Wednesday.
"I am desperate to be fit for the first Ashes Test. If that means missing the Ireland Test, so be it.
"I feel good. I had a scan on the second day of that game - it was a little groin strain. It's a 10-day recovery period, and I'm rehabbing already, running next week.
"It was the best result of a bad situation. That situation (in 2019) was a different injury, a more serious injury. I ripped my calf earlier that summer, and it was a real push to try to get fit for that first Test. I don't feel like this is anywhere near that severity."
Anderson was making his fourth appearance of the county season when he went down at Emirates Old Trafford, tuning up nicely with 16 wickets, and realised instantly he needed to withdraw.
"I was disappointed to have to pull out of a game but, with what's to come in the summer, it was actually a pretty good result," he said.
"It was weird how it worked out. The last ball of my spell I felt something not quite right. I came straight off, and then we came pretty much straight off for rain after that.
"I pulled up the next day and it wasn't right. I went for a scan that night and it showed a strain, so there was no point risking it."
Anderson's likely absence against Ireland creates opportunities elsewhere, with the returning pace pair of Chris Woakes and Matthew Potts eager for action as they seek to force their way back in.