Chris Woakes is optimistic his prospects of featuring in the World Cup and Ashes will not be jeopardised by a long-standing knee problem following a couple of injections to the area.
The Warwickshire seamer feels his fitness has “turned a corner” ahead of a bumper summer on home soil in which England are targeting a first ever global 50-over crown as well as regaining the urn they lost in Australia.
Woakes, a key pillar for England’s one-day side and certainly in the Test reckoning at the very least, had his winter disrupted by an injury that has consistently troubled him in recent times.
Memories of his Champions Trophy campaign being curtailed by a side strain after England’s opening match two years ago are still fresh in the memory.
Woakes has therefore been doing his utmost since his return from the West Indies tour to strengthen the right knee that will not require an operation but which will need to be managed.
The 30-year-old told Press Association Sport: “I feel like I’ll still be able to get through constant days of cricket. It’s in a better place than it was in the West Indies.
“I just found that in the Caribbean when it flared up a little bit, I struggled to get out of second gear and it just felt like I couldn’t really get going.
“Since getting back it’s been good to have a couple of injections, settle it down, build a bit of strength around it and do a bit of rehab. I feel like I’ve turned a corner with it.
“At the minute, surgery is not an option. Further down the line, maybe at some point it might be an option.
“You know, injuries are part and parcel of the game and part of professional sport. But what happened in the Champions Trophy gives me a little bit of extra motivation to be right for an exciting summer ahead.
“It’s just something which I have to manage and constantly maintain. As a fast bowler you’re always going to have something that’s sore, so if that’s the only thing that’s sore I’ll take that.
“Looking at the schedule moving forward, although there’s a lot of cricket, it’s actually quite spaced out nicely so that shouldn’t be an issue.”
Woakes has earned a reputation as one of the best bowlers in the world during the first 10-over powerplay while he has shown he can be depended upon at any stage of the innings.
He is therefore not sweating about his World Cup place, with England due to name their 15-man squad later this month.
Speaking at a NatWest CricketForce event at Marchington Cricket Club, Woakes said: “I’d like to think that since the 2015 World Cup I’ve put in some good performances.
“We’ve built towards this World Cup with a pretty settled squad, it’s never completely in concrete: the final 15. Everyone’s still fighting for a place and you don’t take that for granted.
“But I feel like I have been pretty reliable. I feel like I’ve improved as a cricketer throughout those four years.”
The sudden availability of Sussex firecracker Jofra Archer, after England reduced the required residency qualification period from seven years to three, has put Woakes and his fellow bowlers on alert.
But Woakes believes healthy competition between players should be relished.
He added: “It’s good for us because it means you don’t rest on your laurels.
“Jofra is a world-class bowler from what I’ve seen. He’ll be knocking on the door as well, I’m sure.
“There will always be people trying to take your place, that’s just the nature of the sport. I think it would be wrong for any bowler or any player to think that your place is absolutely guaranteed.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to put on an England shirt, it shouldn’t be taken for granted.”
:: Chris Woakes was speaking at a NatWest CricketForce event at Marchington Cricket Club. Get in touch with your local club to find out more.