England fast bowler Jofra Archer is a step closer to being fit for the first Ashes Test after being cleared to play for Sussex in the T20 Blast on Friday.

The 24-year-old, who has yet to play a Test, was left out of the ongoing match against Ireland to rest a side problem.

He bowled in the nets on Thursday and, if he comes through Sussex’s game against Surrey, will be in line to face Australia.

The first Ashes Test at Edgbaston begins on 1 August.

Barbados-born Archer qualified to play for England in March and was their leading wicket-taker in the World Cup-winning campaign.

His availability for the first Test would add more competition to an already crowded fast-bowling scene.

Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran are playing against Ireland at Lord’s, alongside debutant Olly Stone, who impressed with three wickets on Wednesday.

James Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, missed the Ireland game with a calf injury, but is also set to be fit for the first Ashes Test.

Mark Wood, another star of England’s World Cup success, is out with a side problem and could miss the first three Tests.

England are set to name their squad for the first Test this weekend, while Australia will name their Ashes squad on Friday.