JAMES Vince is the leading contender to replace Alex Hales in England’s World Cup squad after being called up for the five-match series against Pakistan.

Hales was withdrawn from England’s provisional World Cup squad following last week’s revelation he had been suspended for an off-field incident not related to cricket.

England say they have “considered what is in the best interests of the team...to ensure they are free from any distractions” in dropping Hales from all squads ahead of the international season.

The 30-year-old Nottinghamshire batsman is therefore set to miss the one-off one-day international against Ireland in Malahide on Friday and the limited-overs series against Pakistan which follows, as well as the World Cup campaign.

Hampshire captain Vince is in pole position for the World Cup after being called up to the squad to face Pakistan (May 5-19).

Vince has scored 131 runs at 26.2, including a top score of 51 against Sri Lanka, from his previous six one-day internationals the last of which he played nine months ago.

It is his reward for his form in this season’s Royal London One-Day Cup.

So far in this season’s competition he has scored 402 runs at 80.4 and at a strike rate of 113.5, with scores of 56 (v Kent), 95 (v Glamorgan 47), 14 (v Middlesex), 190 (v Gloucestershire), and 47 (v Essex).

Only Derbyshire’s Billy Godleman has scored more .

Other contenders include Warwickshire’s Sam Hain, who has a career List A average of 58.52 after his unbeaten 161 against Worcestershire on Sunday, and Hales’ Nottinghamshire teammate Joe Clarke, who is averaging 62 in this season’s RLODC.

Hales, on a white-ball only deal with Nottinghamshire, missed the start of the Royal London One-Day Cup campaign, with his county saying he was absent due to “personal reasons”.

But it emerged last week he had been sanctioned under the England and Wales Cricket Board’s disciplinary policy for a second time as a spokesperson for the batsman said he had been suspended for an “off-field incident”.

His latest misdemeanour comes only a few months after he was suspended and fined by the ECB’s Cricket Discipline Commission for his role in the notorious Bristol street brawl, also involving international team-mate Ben Stokes, in September 2017 as well as social media posts That led to Hales losing his ODI place.