Alex Hales' hopes of an international recall suffered a setback Wednesday when England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan said it would take yet 'more time' for the Nottinghamshire batsman to regain trust following a drugs ban.
Nottinghamshire opener Hales was dropped from the World Cup squad shortly before last year's tournament after it emerged he had tested positive for drugs.
England went on to win the event on home soil in dramatic fashion without him and he has not played international cricket since.
England, however, are set to name a training squad of up to 45 players on Friday.
It is unlikely players will be allowed to move between formats as England seek to cram a full programme of Test and limited-overs internationals into a season that will start in July at the earliest after the global pandemic wiped out the initial few months of their home campaign.
That led to suggestions Hales, who has three of England's five highest Twenty20 scores to his credit, was in line for a recall.
But even though England all-rounder Chris Woakes said last week that Hales deserved a 'second chance', Morgan appeared to be in a less forgiving mood.
"On the cusp of a World Cup the huge breakdown in trust between him and the players was extremely dramatic," said Morgan, speaking at an online event to mark the 15-year anniversary of cricket charity Chance to Shine, which promotes the game in British state schools.
"I've certainly spoken to Alex and see an avenue for him to come back."
Nevertheless, Morgan added, "It's only been 13 months since the incident. Given that it could have derailed a World Cup campaign, I think it will take more time, yes.
"It's not about performance with Alex, he's a fantastic player and it's never been discussed as to whether he's good enough to be in the squad.
"It's about on and off the field and values we adhere to."
Hales might also have been looking at a recall this season as a way of forcing his way back into the squad for the World Twenty20 in Australia this year.
The International Cricket Council insisted earlier Wednesday that press reports the tournament would be postponed due to the pandemic were 'inaccurate' while stressing it was examining contingencies.
Morgan, however, was sceptical about the prospects of the October 18-November 15 going ahead as planned given what he forecast would be Australian government reluctance to let overseas teams into a country where there have been only just over a hundred deaths from the ongoing pandemic.
"I'd be surprised if it goes ahead," said Morgan.
"My reasons for that would be if you look at how Australia have handled the pandemic, they've shut down the borders pretty early, had a limited number of cases and deaths in comparison to the rest of the world."
Dashing batsman Morgan, 33, hopes to lead England at the T20 World Cup, whenever it is, and at the following 2021 edition in India, despite a longstanding back problem.
And the left-hander hopes form and fitness will allow him to be involved in the defence of England's 50-over title in India in 2023.
"I think a lot of that is going to be dependent on my body," he said. "If my back continues to get better, yes, that could be a chance. If it continues to deteriorate, you can't look past the T20 World Cups."
Feature image courtesy: AFP / William West