The 2023 Ashes starts at Edgbaston on 16th June and the fitness of star fast bowler Jofra Archer is a major concern for England.
Archer has flown home early from the Indian Premier League, where he played only five of Mumbai Indians' first 10 matches this season, to focus on his rehabilitation after elbow surgery.
England are 1/1 to win this summer's five-Test contest against 13/10 rivals Australia and will be desperate to have their talented paceman available for at least part of the series.
|Ashes Series 2023
|The five Test matches take place at Edgbaston, Lord's, Headingley, Old Trafford and The Oval
|Friday 16th June to Monday 31st July 2023
|How to watch
|Live on Sky Sports Cricket
|England 1/1, Draw 6/1, Australia 13/10
Jofra Archer made a spectacular start to his England career, bowling the Super Over in the thrilling 2019 World Cup final triumph over New Zealand before a memorable Test debut against Australia at Lord's just a few weeks later.
His first-innings duel with Steve Smith was one of the greatest spells of fast bowling from an England Test player and cricket enthusiasts will be hoping for a rematch with Smith this summer.
However, since arriving on the international scene four years ago, Archer has been restricted to 13 Test matches, 21 ODIs and 15 Twenty20 internationals and his last Test appearance came in India in February 2021.
An elbow injury has hampered the fast bowler over the past couple of years, although he featured on England's white-ball tour of Bangladesh in March and it was hoped that a full IPL campaign with Mumbai would get him up to speed for the Ashes.
However, Archer has had a tough time in India, appearing in only five of Mumbai's first 10 fixtures and taking just two wickets.
An ECB statement explained that he was still feeling "discomfort" when bowling, hence the decision to "return to the UK for a period of rest and rehabilitation to give him the best opportunity for a full recovery".
England teammate Chris Jordan has replaced Archer at Mumbai, who are 8/1 to win a record-extending sixth IPL title this year, but his premature withdrawal from the tournament is a worry with the first Ashes Test fast approaching.
Archer played four of the five Test matches in the 2019 Ashes, claiming 22 wickets - including 6-45 at Headingley and 6-62 at The Oval.
England would love to unleash him against the Aussies again this summer, although they haven't done badly in his absence over the past 12 months - winning 10 of their 12 Test matches under captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, playing some stunning cricket along the way.
Stokes said earlier in the summer that he wanted "fast, flat wickets" for the clash with Australia and a fully-fit Archer would be a huge threat in those conditions.
Veterans James Anderson and Stuart Broad have been England's most successful Test fast bowlers in the last year and they have tormented Australian batsmen in previous home Ashes series.
However, Stokes and McCullum will want to have some raw pace in their attack too and Mark Wood fits the bill.
Like Archer, the Durham speedster has had an injury-disrupted career but he looked sharp in a brief IPL spell with Lucknow Super Giants this season, taking 11 wickets in four matches - including 5-14 on his debut against Delhi.
Wood's performance in the 2021/22 Ashes defeat in Australia was a rare positive for England, particularly in the final Test in Hobart where he took nine wickets, and he will be eager for another crack at the Aussies.
He has played just 28 Tests in the nine years since his debut against New Zealand at Lord's, but he has the character to relish the extra responsibility if Archer is ruled out.
Another of England's quickest bowlers, Olly Stone, suffered a hamstring strain playing for Nottinghamshire in the County Championship, having been sidelined by a back injury over the winter.
More positive news for England is the return to fitness of Lancashire's Saqib Mahmood and the form of Ollie Robinson.
The Sussex seamer claimed career-best match figures of 14-117 in a drawn Championship fixture against Worcestershire at the start of this month.
Three of Robinson's wickets in that game were caught by Australia's ace batsman Steve Smith, who is warming up for the Ashes with a county stint at Hove.
The Aussies thumped England 4-0 at home in the 2021/22 series and are To Retain the Ashes this summer.