Brisbane: England men’s cricket team managing director, Ashley Giles, has said that all-rounder Ben Stokes’ progress would be closely monitored, adding that he could be a doubtful starter given that he hasn’t played competitive cricket for nearly five months.

Stokes also took a blow to his arm at the visitors’ practice session on Sunday but Giles said it was nothing serious and that the all-rounder was “progressing well in his training with the squad”.

Stokes was a late addition to the England squad for the five-Test Ashes as he was prioritising his mental health and recovering from a second surgery on a finger injury.

“Ben seems to be going well and it’s just great having him around. We’ve still got to be steady with him, he hasn’t played a lot of cricket lately and, going back to that prep period, it’s not ideal for anyone but particularly the guys who haven’t had a lot of cricket under their belt. We’ll just keep building him up and see where we are at the end of this four-day game,” Giles told on Sunday evening.

Stokes had suffered a fracture to his left index finger while fielding for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2021 in April. After leaving the tournament, he needed surgery. In July, Stokes led a fresh ODI team to a 3-0 series win over Pakistan when the first choice team was unavailable due to COVID-19 outbreak.

Stokes had a second surgery in October to remove scar tissue and two screws from the left index finger.

“I’m hopeful and I would always like to be confident. We’ve just got to treat Ben carefully, as we would with anyone else who has been in that position of not having a lot of cricket under their belts. He will be a difficult man to hold back if he is ready to go,” said Giles.

The England players would be hoping to get Test-match fit when they begin their four-day warm-up game against England Lions from Tuesday. The Test players who were part of the ICC T20 World Cup in UAE will travel to Brisbane — the venue for the first Test starting December 8 — from their quarantine base on the Gold Coast on the morning of the warm-up match, along with head coach Chris Silverwood.