Eoin Morgan has been given the chance to press his claims to fill Paul Collingwood's Test place after being named in the England Lions squad to face Sri Lanka in Derby next week.
Morgan has been touted as the man most likely to replace Collingwood after the veteran right-hander retired from the five-day game following England's Ashes success in the winter.
The Irishman will, however, face opposition from Ravi Bopara who has also been selected in the 12-man Lions squad to raise the prospect of a 'bat-off' between the duo ahead of the first Test in Cardiff on May 26.
While Morgan looms as the man in waiting after touring Australia, Bopara has made a solid start to the new county season and made an unbeaten 136 in his last four-day game against Glamorgan.
Morgan is joined in the squad by two of his fellow Ashes winners from the winter with Steven Finn and Ajmal Shahzad both selected, while Graham Onions makes his return to England ranks after missing most of last year with a back injury.
Somerset's James Hildreth will skipper the team which also includes seven of the players who played in the Lions side that was unbeaten during the winter's four-day competition in the Caribbean.
"It has been very pleasing to see many of the players selected for the England Lions squad last winter make good starts to the domestic season and they have been rewarded with an opportunity to play a strong Sri Lankan side and push for further international honours," chief selector Geoff Miller said.
"England Lions games are crucial stages in a player's development and give selectors a good indication of whether players are ready to make the transition into the full England side.
"Furthermore it's an excellent chance for fans to enjoy watching a talented young England squad take on a very good Sri Lankan Test side."
The one major surprise is the inclusion of Nottinghamshire all-rounder Samit Patel after team director Andy Flower questioned his desire to play for his country earlier this year.
Flower revealed in January, when England named their World Cup squad, that Patel had not been included because he had failed to heed warnings about his fitness.
Patel's international career has been undermined by his battle with his weight, but his inclusion would seemingly suggest he has shown signs of improvement.
The England Lions match against Sri Lanka begins at the County Ground in Derby on May 19.
England Lions squad: J Hildreth (Somerset - captain), J Adams (Hampshire), J Bairstow (Yorkshire), D Briggs (Hampshire), R Bopara (Essex), J Dernbach (Surrey), S Finn (Middlesex), E Morgan (Middlesex), G Onions (Durham), S Patel (Nottinghamshire), A Shahzad (Yorkshire), J Taylor (Leicestershire).