London:Ian Bell's prospects of an England recall were given a boost after he was selected in the second-string Lions team that will face the West Indies in a tour match next week in Derby.
The fixture is the tourists' last before the first Test against England starts at Lord's on May 6.
The squad for the opening Test of a two-match series will have been chosen by then and Bell may, in any event, be in it, after a strong start to the county season which has included a first-class century for Warwickshire against Somerset in the County Championship.
However, doubts remain about his effectiveness at international.
Bell, who had been a regular member of the England side for three years, was dropped during the off-season after a run of only one fifty in 12 innings, during which time he averaged under 20.
"There's nothing to be read into his selection," said England national selector Geoff Miller.
"He's a centrally-contracted player who did not play as much cricket as he would have liked during the winter and this game gives him another chance to press his claims."
Owais Shah, who took Bell's place in the top order, will be back from his stint in the Indian Premier League by the time the Test squad is announced and ex-England captain Michael Vaughan will have had another county championship match in which to press his claims for a recall.
The Lions will again be led by Kent's Rob Key, who captained them in the last English season summer and during their tour to New Zealand.
The Kent batsman, himself a former Test player, is being tipped as a candidate to lead England when they host June's ICC World Twenty20 tournament.
There are six other players with international experience in the Lions team - Bell, Tim Ambrose, Sajid Mahmood, Samit Patel, Liam Plunkett and Luke Wright.
Meanwhile, promising Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid has also been selected after touring with the senior England team in the Caribbean.
Patel's call comes after his selection for the England one-day squad in the West Indies was reversed after he failed to reach the required fitness levels.
"His response to what happened in the winter has been very good," said Miller. "The message got through to him and he has accepted the reasons why it has happened and worked hard ever since.
"It is no longer a request for players to be fit enough to play cricket, there is a demand there for fitness so they are able to cope with the international cricket schedule."
England Lions team: Rob Key (capt), Tim Ambrose (wkt), Ian Bell, Sajid Mahmood, Stephen Moore, Samit Patel, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jonathan Trott, Chris Woakes, Luke Wright.