MARK Adair remains a major doubt for next week’s one-day internationals against England after missing the intra-squad game in Southampton.

The CIYMS all-rounder had surgery on his ankle over the winter and it was hoped that had cured what has been a persistent problem for him. But as head coach Graham Ford said, in a press conference ahead of the final warm-up game against the England Lions on Sunday, he remains a concern and a “bit of a mystery”.

Ford added: “We hoped he would come here firing on all cylinders but he is still experiencing some discomfort and until now hasn’t been able to bowl with full intensity.

“We are fortunate to have the team doctor here, he is the surgeon who operated on him, so he is doing his best to get him back but we are taking it one day at a time.”

The other player who sat out Wednesday’s game in the Ageas Bowl, the venue for the ODIs, the first on Thursday, is Paul Stirling but Ford explained that was more of a precaution.

He has a calf niggle, which is a history of, and he aggravated it in the first training session so it would have been silly to risk him in that game,” said the coach.

“He is making good progress and had a net session on Thursday which was a recovery day but I’m very hopeful he will be fine going forwards. We definitely want him to play on Sunday but we won’t take any unnecessary risk. He is just so important to us. We’ll monitor it over the next two days.”

Ireland were hoping to reduce their 22-man training squad to a 14-player match squad after the Lions game but Adair is likely to be given every opportunity to be included after the instant impact he has made since his debut, against England, in May last year. He finished 2019 as the leading wicket-taker with 48.

The full Ireland party remain in the bio-secure venue for the duration of the trip so if someone has to drop out of the match squad at any stage, there is certainly enough cover available.

If Adair drops out, one of the possible contenders to replace him is uncapped Curtis Campher who impressed in the practice game, ending the century partnership between Kevin O’Brien and Simi Singh and scoring 34 runs from 53 balls.

The 11 who face the Lions will be assured of a place in the final 14 – injury permitting.

Scores in Friday's NCU intra-squad pathway game
Shaw’s Bridge: Team A 170-4 (G Thompson 45 not out, R Pretorius 40, CJ van der Walt 31 not out, M Ellison 28) Team B 158-5 (R Adair 89, N Rock 25; R Pretorius 2-21, J Mulder 2-31). Team A won by 12 runs.