London:England's selectors withdrew uncapped batsman Jonathan Trott from the England Lions match with Australia as they gave a major clue as to their thinking for next week's final Ashes Test.
Trott was originally named in the England second-string team to play Australia in a two-day match at Canterbury.
But the selectors' decision to pull him out on the morning of the game indicated the South Africa-born Warwickshire batsman was in line for a Test debut next week, with England clearly keen the Australians do not find out too much about the 28-year-old ahead of the Ashes finale at the Oval.
England are due to name on Sunday their squad for the fifth Test, which starts at the south London ground on Thursday.
The hosts are expected to make changes to their batting line-up after a double collapse in the fourth Test at Headingley saw Australia win by a crushing innings and 80 runs to level the Ashes at 1-1 with one to play.
Trott was included in England's squad at Headingley but was ultimately left out as the hosts, with all-rounder Andrew Flintoff declared unfit, opted for a fast bowler in Stephen Harmison rather than a batsman.
Trott reinforced his case for a Test call earlier this week with 121 for Warwickshire against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
That was his fourth first-class hundred of the season and took his overall tally to 1,046 runs at an average of 80.46.
England batsmen Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood managed just 16 runs between them at Headingley but it is the struggling Bopara who appears in greatest danger of losing his place.
There have been calls for the likes of Kent's Rob Key and Surrey veteran Mark Ramprakash to be recalled at the Oval in a bid to bolster England's batting. But Saturday's decision to pull Trott out of the Lions match suggests he is in pole position if England decide to alter their batting order.
Trott's only two previous international appearances came at the Oval two year ago when he appeared in back-to-back Twenty20 internationals against the West Indies.
Australia need only a draw at the Oval to retain the Ashes they won 5-0 on home soil in 2006/07 but England must win if they are to regain them and equal their 2-1 triumph of four years ago over their oldest opponents.