Worcestershire pace bowler Josh Tongue is set to return to action in the opening home LV=Insurance County Championship match with Gloucestershire at New Road beginning on Thursday (11am start).
Tongue played in the opening match against Derbyshire at the Incora County Ground, and his three wickets in quick succession on the final morning meant Worcestershire had a more manageable target to chase down.
The England Lions player was then rested for the away match with Durham, and Head Coach Alan Richardson said the plan is to use him on a game-on, game-off basis for the opening six matches after his long lay-off with a shoulder problem.
Tongue is part of a 13-strong squad which consists of the players who travelled to the Seat Unique Riverside minus spinner Josh Baker and Gareth Roderick, who has taken a knock to his thumb in training, plus keeper-batter Ben Cox.
Richardson said: “Josh (Tongue) has been on a huge journey himself and missed a lot of cricket last year, and, for me, we have to treat all the bowlers individually, and we have to try and look after them.
“It is definitely a squad game, and for those guys in that bowling unit, they are going to have to work together throughout.
“We looked at the six-game block in this seven weeks and decided to pick our way through it and decided Josh, with a natural pattern, would have a game on, game off, and hopefully, he will play on Thursday.
Tickets are available in advance of each day’s play priced at £16 for adults and at the gate priced at £19 for adults. Entry is free for all under 17s for all County Championship cricket at New Road.
Tickets for all fixtures, including the Vitality Blast and One Day Cup are also available via the Club’s official website.
“It is not something we are going to do throughout the season, but we just felt he had a high workload at Derby when we hadn’t got much cricket behind us.
“It wasn’t about resting him because he was tired after one game, but it’s about trying to pick our way through the fixtures as effectively as we can for everyone and not just Josh.”
Richardson added: “I think we’ve got to try and manage as many people as we can. We learnt that through the last couple of seasons.
“To try and keep everyone fit and healthy whilst still being as competitive as possible, we have to appreciate it’s a long season, and there are three formats to get through as well.
“Of course, we’d love everyone to be fit and firing for everyone game, and it’s not always the case.”
Adam Hose is in contention to make his home debut after signing a three-year contract with Worcestershire.
He did not play against Durham when Worcestershire changed the balance of the side by opting to play an extra seam bowler.
They will go into the side in joint second spot in Division Two, just seven points behind early leaders Leicestershire.