Malcolm, who had a bone scan in Manchester, will today undergo exploratory arthroscopic surgery on the injured right knee which forced him to fly back from the West Indies at the weekend.
The possibility of Malcolm making a return flight rose after yesterday's examination which suggested to the consultant orthopaedic surgeon, John Noble, that Malcolm's problem was a build-up of fluid and debris around the knee, not a cartilage injury.
The nature of the injury means it could be up to 10 days before a definite verdict is reached on its cause. The team manager, Keith Fletcher, intimated that England would be prepared to wait.
'I interpret this as good news,' he said. 'It means that Devon has not ripped the cartilage and it should be only a question of cleaning out the knee joint. I would have thought he would be fully fit in three weeks and we would have him back for the last two Tests in Barbados and Antigua.'
Although Fletcher briefly
entertained Malcolm playing the third Test in Trinidad on 25 March, the fourth, opening on 8 April, is more realistic - particularly since it is preceded by a first-class match against a West Indies' Board XI, the only non-Test fixture in the tour's final five weeks.
The lack of non-international matches means, should Malcolm be ruled out in as much as 10 days' time, any replacement would have little opportunity to acclimatise. Even so, Fletcher said one would probably be summoned if that was the case. So, Mark Ilott and Martin McCague are likely to continue pounding the streets of Potters Bar and Canterbury.
England, having taken a day off to explore St Vincent's black sand beaches, prepare today for their third one-day international there tomorrow. The West Indies, who levelled the series on Saturday, have added the uncapped Barbados captain, Roland Holder, to their 12-man squad.
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