ENGLAND captain Eoin Morgan admits the absence of Ben Stokes through injury will leave big boots to fill for the start of the five-match ODI series against Australia.

The Durham all-rounder tore his left hamstring in the build-up to the second Test against Pakistan at Headingly and missed the shock six-run defeat to Scotland on Sunday.

He has returned to county side for rehabilitation and a statement from the ECB confirmed he will also be absent for the “first part” of the ODI series with Australia. His availability for the game at his home ground a week on Thursday remains up in the air.

And with Chris Woakes also joining him on the sidelines with a quad strain, one-day captain Morgan was unable to hide his disappointment about losing two of his most versatile players.

“They are two hugely crucial players for us, so of course they are going to be missed,” he said.

“In the winter, Chris missed a couple of ODIs and Ben was missing for all of Australia, so we do miss them and they leave big holes.

“They are tough boots to fill but it presents opportunities to other guys coming through.

“Guys like Tom Curran and David Willey have a brilliant opportunity to come in, do well and stake a claim.

“In Australia and New Zealand, we had Alex Hales batting three which was a great opportunity for him to come in and score runs.”

Stokes has not faced Australia since last year’s Champions Trophy, missing the Ashes Test series, a five-match ODI series and the T20 tri-series due to his alleged involvement in a street brawl in Bristol last September.

Morgan said the 27-year-old, who has 67 one-day internationals to his name, is important to England due to his ability to contribute to all areas of the game.

But he insists England possess the strength in depth to cover the absence of both Stokes and Woakes until they return – with the ECB hopeful they will return for the latter part of the series.

“The nice thing about the group of players we have is that it’s not only 11 or 15 guys, it’s 17 or 18 that could legitimately make a good argument for making the starting XI,” said Morgan.

“That’s been one of the contributing factors to us doing so well.

“Ben and Chris are key players because of their all-rounder status and the fact they can contribute in all facets of the game.

“But there are certainly guys ready and waiting to take their place and I have every confidence in the Currans and the Willeys to step up.”

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