James Anderson and Ollie Robinson have been rested from the Ireland game in the hope they will be fully fit for next month's Ashes
England pacer, Chris Woakes, said Tuesday he feared he might never play Test cricket again following a long lay-off due to a knee injury.
The Warwickshire pace-bowling all-rounder was sidelined from first-class cricket for more than a year after knee surgery and has not played a Test since facing the West Indies in March 2022.
But the 34-year-old has been included in England's squad for their lone Test against Ireland at Lord's starting on Thursday and a strong showing at the 'Home of Cricket' could see Woakes feature in the upcoming home Ashes series.
"Last summer was quite a tough summer for me personally, missing out on not just England cricket but all cricket," Woakes told reporters at Lord's on Tuesday.
And there was no disguising the relief Woakes, a veteran of 45 Tests, felt at getting a call from England coach Brendon McCullum telling him he was back in the red-ball squad.
"When Brendan did call me it felt, not like the first call-up, but it always means a lot and it's great to be back amongst it," he said.
"Those sort of doubts (about playing again for England) do run through your mind a little bit. That's part and parcel of professional sport, whether it be form, injury or whatever it is, there's always someone knocking on the door, younger players ready to come in."
England have won 10 out of 12 Tests since McCullum and captain Ben Stokes joined forces last year.
But although fellow pacemen James Anderson and Ollie Robinson have been rested from the Ireland game in the hope they will be fully fit for next month's Ashes opener at Edgbaston, Woakes still has ambitions to face Australia this season.
"Yes of course," he said. "Whenever you get an opportunity put the shirt on it's an opportunity to impress, contribute to team wins, and with a huge summer ahead you want to try and be a part of that."
Woakes, whose five Tests at Lord's have yield an impressive batting average of 61.20 and 27 wickets at a miserly 11.33, added: "It's an opportunity if I get the nod on Thursday, then I'll obviously be doing my best to contribute to the team winning and putting in a personal performance.
"You look across the board and we've got a very, very good pool of fast bowlers. There has been a couple of niggles around, obviously, and with a big summer ahead you would imagine we're going to need that big pool of fast bowlers at some point."