The wear volume is known to keep increasing during frictional processes, and Archard notably proposed a model to describe the probability of wear particle formation upon asperity collision in a two-body contact configuration. While this model is largely adopted in the investigations of wear, the presence of wear debris trapped between the surfaces changes the system into a three-body contact configuration already since the early stages of the process. In such a configuration, a significant amount of wear is produced at the interface between the trapped debris and the sliding bodies. Here, relying on analytical models, we develop a framework that describes crack growth in a three-body configuration at the particle-surface interface. We then show that crack growth is favoured within the sliding surfaces, instead of within the debris particle, and test such result by means of numerical simulations with a phase-field approach to fracture. This leads to an increase in the wear volume and to debris particle accretion, rather than its breakdown. The effects of adhesion, coefficient of friction, and ratio of the applied global tangential and normal forces are also investigated. (C) 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.