Mark Wood
Wood's seering pace could prove vital.Getty Images

Mark Wood has been included in England's squad for the ICC Champions Trophy after missing the entire winter schedule with a severe ankle problem. The fast bowler has not played for England since September, but has proved his fitness for Durham and will now take the place of Steven Finn.

Middlesex star Finn has been included in the England squad to face Ireland, but neither he nor Ben Duckett are included to play the Champions Trophy or the one-day international series against South Africa.

David Willey has made the cut after recovering from a hand injury, while captain Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy and Sam Billings have made themselves available to face Ireland despite their IPL commitments.

The return to fitness of Willey and Wood is a source of encouragement for national selector James Whitaker, who is pleased by the progress that England have made over the last year-and-a-half –but has called on England to not take the clashes against South Africa and Ireland lightly.

David Willey
Willey is back in the hold after recovering from a hand injury.Getty Images

"We have made encouraging progress over the past 18 months in white-ball cricket and the squads selected reflect consistency and give options across all disciplines," Whitaker said.

"It is pleasing that Mark Wood and David Willey have returned to full fitness. They add variety and quality to our bowling strengths and David's ability as an attacking batsman is also an important element for us.

"As we build-up to the ICC Champions Trophy in June, matches against Ireland and South Africa are very important in their own right as we aim to win both series."

England have finished Champions Trophy runners-up twice since its inception in 1998 (2004 and 2013) and will hope to go one better this year. They will have their work cut out if they do harbour hopes of victory, though, with Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand in their group.