London: Essex batsman Tom Westley is in line to make his England debut at number three in next week's third Test against South Africa at The Oval, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Thursday.
He could be joined in the side by another newcomer to Test cricket in Middlesex batsman Dawid Malan, also included in a 13-man squad for what will be the 100th Test at The Oval, which starts on Thursday, 27 July.
Gary Ballance, England's number three in their crushing 346-run defeat in the second Test at Trent Bridge last week that saw South Africa level the four-match series at 1-1, was ruled out on Tuesday with a broken finger.
"Essex’s Tom Westley is set to earn his first cap, with selectors confirming he will bat at number three in the 100th Test at the Oval," said an ECB statement as the selectors took the unusual step of confirming the newcomer's place in the side long in advance of the match.
"Middlesex batsman Dawid Malan is also included in the squad for the first time and could feature if England decide on selecting an extra batsman when they confirm their starting line-up next week.
"England will report to the Kia Oval on Tuesday, where they will train in the afternoon."
England born but South Africa raised Malan looks as if he will go head-to-head with spin-bowling all-rounder Liam Dawson for a place in the side.
However, struggling opener Keaton Jennings is set to retain his place alongside Alastair Cook, with in-form Surrey batsman Mark Stoneman missing out on a call-up on his home ground.
Meanwhile Malan's county colleague Toby Roland-Jones, also uncapped, will vie for a place among England's pace attack with Mark Wood.
Durham-quick Wood has struggled for form this series but has been passed fit following a heel problem.
Yorkshire left-hander Ballance would, however, have been under pressure to retain his position even if fully fit.
He has averaged a meagre 21.25 in four innings so far this series, with a top score of 34, in what is the Zimbabwe-born batsman's third crack at Test cricket.
England were bowled out for just 133 on the fourth day at Trent Bridge, with Ballance dismissed for four.
Their top-order batting has long been a concern, hence the call-ups for both Westley, 28, and Malan, 29.
Westley has been in good form for County Championship leaders Essex so far this season, scoring 478 First Division runs, including two centuries, at an average of 53.11.
Significantly, he also made 106 not out against a strong South Africa attack for the second-string England Lions at Worcester last month.
Malan, who made a match-winning debut in England's deciding T20 victory against South Africa in Cardiff last month, with 78 off 44 balls in Cardiff, has been a consistent performer in red-ball cricket with Middlesex.
He averages 42.50 in the County Championship so far this season, with a top score of 115.
Alastair Cook (Essex), Keaton Jennings (Durham), Tom Westley (Essex), Joe Root (capt), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire, wkt) Dawid Malan (Middlesex), Ben Stokes (Durham), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Mark Wood (Durham), James Anderson (Lancashire), Liam Dawson (Hampshire), Toby Roland-Jones (Middlesex)
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Updated Date: Jul 21, 2017 07:46:51 IST