Worcestershire are optimistic paceman Gareth Andrew will make a complete recovery from his current back problem – and hopeful he may even be able to resume bowling by the end of the current campaign.
The 30-year-old can continue playing this summer as a batsman – a role he has been employed in with some success already in the NatWest T20 Blast – without it having an adverse effect on his rehabilitation programme.
Andrew had an initial scan four weeks ago which showed a fracture through one of the lumbar pedicles in his back and, although the bone is continuing to heal, the process is taking longer than originally anticipated.
The former Somerset player saw a specialist earlier this week and it was then decided to put on hold any plans to return to bowling until the end of the August when he will have a further scan.
Worcestershire physiotherapist Ben Davies said: "Gareth had a specialist CT scan in London four weeks ago and it showed a fracture through one of his lumbar pedicles.
"There were signs of healing with this scan but unfortunately, Gareth needs more time for this to settle.
"After seeing a specialist at the beginning of the week, it was agreed that Gareth would continue to the end of August playing as a batsman.
We will then review where he is at and begin bowling if all is well. "It is one of those injuries that is obviously unfortunate but it is a common bowling injury and fast bowlers come back from these injuries all the time.
"The positive signs are that the scan shows that it is healing. "We have to take the positives away from that scan that he is going to make a full recovery and it is going to heal which means we will have a fully fit Gareth Andrew hopefully towards the back-end of the season.
"We will try and target a couple of games at the end of the season, see if we can get him back bowling for those. We'll re-scan him at the end of August. If that shows the bone is fully healed then we'll be pretty confident to get him back to bowling then."
Davies added: "Playing as a batsman won't do any damage in terms of his rehabilitation. With this injury, he only gets pain when he bowls. He's been pain free with everything, so he can do gym training, bat, field, and have no soreness.
"It is actually important you keep him doing his batting, his fielding, and his gym work because you still need to load the bone for it to heal properly. It is part of the rehab that he needs to do everything."
Andrew made a flying start to the season with 20 wickets in the opening four LV = County Championship matches when taking the new ball including a career-best 5-40 against Glamorgan at the Swalec Stadium.
He said: "It is really frustrating becauseI had such a good start to the season and I want to keep on contributing in the team.
"Even more frustrating for me is that I can do everything except bowl so I can runaround and bat and I feel great but I just can't bowl at the moment.
"The specialist has said it hasn't had long enough to heal so to come back in a couple of months and have another scan and hopefully it will then have settled down a lot more and I can carry on then.
"The good thing is it is one of those things that over time will heal. I just have to get my head around that it's not the biggest problem in the world.
"Every game you miss is disappointing. I will hopefully contribute with the bat if I get the opportunity. The one time I did, I did alright (against Durham Jets) and hopefully I will again at some stage."