Warwickshire's Ian Bell looks like missing out at Lord's in Thursday's first Test match against Sri Lanka.
Alastair Cook is expected to bat at No 3 behind Andrew Strauss and the restored Marcus Trescothick, and chairman of selectors David Graveney said that Bell is in the squad if England play an extra batsman and only four bowlers.
In the absence of so many of the front-line attack, Jon Lewis and Sajid Mahmood look like contesting one pace position in support of Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard and Liam Plunkett, who is good enough to bat at No 8 and allow Monty Panesar to play.
The left-arm spinner simply must play because the last time England played an all-seam attack at Lord's it was also against Sri Lanka who racked up more than 500 runs. The home side was happy to escape with a draw.
It is unlikely that Panesar will be part of a four-man attack, which makes the unlucky Bell the one to miss out. It is ironic that he seemed to have established himself in Pakistan after getting his chance when Michael Vaughan was injured, and now he is dropped for Cook, who also got his chance when he was called up from the A tour of West Indies following Trescothick's return home.
The middle order from four to seven is the best available and, with Plunkett and Matthew Hoggard following, and Panesar to bring up the rear, the only query concerns whether conditions will favour Lewis or Mahmood.
The retention of Flintoff as captain carries a welcome health warning from Graveney, even though he refused to speculate about when Vaughan would return.
"It would be wrong to name a date but he is the England captain and we are in regular touch," he said. The hope must be that he plays at Edgbaston on May 25 - if not, then certainly at Trent Bridge early next month.
If his knee is still playing up and a longer-term decision has to be taken, surely Strauss will take over and allow Flintoff to concentrate on batting and bowling. The management has hinted that he needs sympathetic handling in the jam-packed itinerary before the Ashes tour.
When did England last play without four regulars - Vaughan, Ashley Giles, Steve Harmison, Simon Jones - and replacements James Anderson and Ian Blackwell? It shouldn't matter but Sri Lanka are not to be written off.