Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes says Worcestershire all-rounder Ross Whiteley is capable of putting himself in contention for a place in England's squad for the 2016 ICC World T20 tournament in India.

Whiteley will have a chance to stake a claim as part of the England Lions squad – along with Joe Clarke – for five T20 matches with Pakistan 'A' in the UAE next month.

He showed his fearsome hitting power last summer with 29 sixes for Worcestershire in the NatWest T20 Blast.

It was a total only equalled in the competition by former Worcestershire player Chris Gayle with Somerset and Luke Wright (Sussex).

Rhodes, who is part of the Lions coaching set-up this winter, said: "How big an opportunity is this for Ross? For all the players it is but especially Ross. He is a little bit older than some of them and will be desperate to show people what he can do.

"He showed in county cricket what he can do in T20 cricket this summer and last season (2014) as well.

"If he can transfer that form into Lions cricket, which is a stepping stone towards the international game, then may well prove to people that he is worth a crack.

"Is he capable of putting himself in contention for the ICC T20? He is definitely capable of it. The ball is in his court to do so.

"What he has got to make sure he does is that he does not get too carried away with the other distractions that can happen, things like 'I'm playing for the Lions now, should I play differently?'

"Well he shouldn't play differently. He has got to just see the ball and hit the ball. That's what he is, a very good clean striker of a cricket ball."

Rhodes added: "There are two former overseas players we've had at Worcester in Chris Gayle and Andre Russell who when you are with them at the nets, the ball flies back at you at a pretty hectic rate.

"Ross, you often feel the same way. When you are throwing a few balls at Ross to smack, there seems to be a little bit of a difference in how far he can hit it compared to other people.

"There are plenty of guys who can clear the ropes but Ross can hit it another 20 yards and that is testament to his skills and powers and the way he can hit a cricket ball."