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Stokes return edges nearer

England all-rounder Ben Stokes is on course to make a return to first-class cricket after over two months out of action with a broken wrist.

The 22-year-old, forced to undergo surgery after sustaining the problem, missed the World Twenty20 and has been unable to turn out for Durham so far this year.

But following encouraging knocks for the second XI side against their Nottinghamshire counterparts on Monday, he has been tipped to come back into the LV= County Championship reckoning this weekend.

Durham take on Notts, starting on Sunday, and second XI coach Alastair Maiden believes Stokes could play a full part.

"He looks absolutely fine, no problems with his injury," he said. "I don't think his injury is affecting his batting at all; he looks like he's never left the crease really from the Ashes. In my eyes he (Stokes) is not far off being fit to play."

Maiden did, however, add a note of caution.

"His bowling is progressing slowly," he added. "There's no problem batting, no problem fielding and it's just about building his bowling back up but I can't see any problem with him being available for that game (against Nottinghamshire)."

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