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Blackwell boosts Warwickshire challenge

Worcestershire CCC

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Warwickshire will hand Ian Blackwell his LV= County Championship debut in the Division One clash with struggling Middlesex at Edgbaston.

The all-rounder, signed on loan from Durham last week, fills the void left by New Zealand spinner Jeetan Patel and is included in a squad boosted the availability of Chris Woakes, who returns from England Lions duty.

Middlesex have replaced Tom Smith and Andy Balbirnie with Ravi Patel and Tom Scollay as they look to bounce back from their narrow defeat to London rivals Surrey at the Kia Oval.

Sajid Mahmood has been named in Somerset’s squad for the visit of Sussex to Taunton.

The former England paceman, a Lancashire loanee, has bolstered Marcus Trescothick’s side’s bowling options, with Gemaal Hussain and Alfonso Thomas struggling with hip and hamstring injuries respectively.

Ian Blackwell

On-loan Durham all-rounder Ian Blackwell fills Jeetan Patel's shoes in Warwickshire's championship clash with Middlesex tomorrow

In-form batsman Nick Compton faces a late fitness test on a back injury, but Trescothick will play despite missing the Clydesdale Bank 40 victory over Scotland in order to rest his ankle.

Sussex have added left-arm seamer Lewis Hatchett to their party.

Durham and Worcestershire have their influential players back as they square off at the Emirates Durham ICG.

The revitalised hosts, who have won their last three four-day matches, have England Lion Ben Stokes in their ranks, while the relegation-threatened visitors are improved by the return of Phil Hughes from Australia A duty.

In Division Two, leaders Derbyshire could field Jonathan Clare and Richard Johnson at Northamptonshire.

All-rounder Clare and on-loan Warwickshire wicketkeeper Johnson may have recovered from back and leg injuries that forced them to miss last week’s draw with promotion-chasing Yorkshire.

Northants, without the injured Chaminda Vaas for the rest of the season, could include Jack Brooks after the England Lions seamer returned to action in yesterday’s CB40 defeat to Kent following four weeks on the sidelines.

Hampshire can move closer to automatic promotion with victory over bottom-of-the-table Leicestershire at Grace Road.

Jimmy Adams’ side chased down 329 on the final day against Northants, courtesy of the captain’s 149, to move 11 points behind Derbyshire, who have a game in hand, and 10 clear of third-placed Yorkshire.

The visitors could welcome back Michael Carberry after the opening batsman struck 54 on his return to action against Surrey yesterday.

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