Depleted Durham out to stretch lead

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Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes is one of two Durham players on England Lions duty - and one of four missing for the home match against Hampshire

Durham will be without four key players against Hampshire as they bid to extend their lead at the top of the LV= County Championship.

With second-placed Lancashire, who trail by six points, not in action this week, Durham entertain Division One’s bottom side at the Emirates Durham ICG relishing the opportunity to stretch their advantage to sizeable proportions.

However, they must attempt to do so without all-rounders Paul Collingwood and Ben Stokes and leg-spinner Scott Borthwick.

Collingwood has failed to recover from the back spasm he suffered in last week’s draw against Nottinghamshire and which kept him out of Sunday’s Friends Life t20 quarter-final defeat by Hampshire.

Stokes and Borthwick are on England Lions duty for the one-day series against Sri Lanka A which begins on Friday, while Steve Harmison continues his recovery from an ankle injury.

Chris Rushworth, Mark Wood and Mark Stonemen have been included in a 12-man squad to cover their absence.

Hampshire are missing captain and all-rounder Dominic Cork and left-arm spinner Danny Briggs.

Dominic Cork

Hampshire will be captained by Jimmy Adams in the absence of calf injury victim Dominic Cork, above, at the Emirates Durham ICG

Cork is resting a calf strain suffered in last week’s run-laden draw against Yorkshire, and Briggs was due to be involved with the Lions before a shoulder injury forced him to withdraw from the squad.

Jimmy Adams will lead the side in Cork’s absence, and he can call upon Dimitri Mascarenhas, whose long-standing Achilles problems have eased sufficiently for him to feature in the championship for the first time since June.

South African pace bowler Friedel de Wet, who has not played a first XI game for more than three months, is also included in a 13-man squad that also features Kabir Ali and James Tomlinson.

Sussex entertain Worcestershire at Horsham in the only other top-flight game this week, with the threat of relegation looming over both.

Luke Wright remains sidelined by a knee injury and Murray Goodwin, though named in a 13-strong Sussex squad, may not feature after splitting the webbing on his right hand in last night's FLt20 quarter-final defeat by Lancashire.

Lou Vincent is in line to make his first championship appearance for Sussex, but Matt Prior is on Test duty and Chris Nash likewise with the Lions.

In Division Two, Surrey have called on Chris Jordan to replace fellow pace Stuart Meaker, who is also on Lions duty, for the trip to Kent, while Jade Dernbach returns after sitting out last week’s Clydesdale Bank 40 win over Northamptonshire.

Third-placed Gloucestershire travel to Derbyshire before Northants and a Middlesex side minus Steven Finn - separated by only five points at the top of the table - clash at Lord’s on Thursday.

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