Champions bolstered by seam duo

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Warwickshire are set to welcome back Chris Woakes and Keith Barker for the LV= County Championship visit of Durham, while Boyd Rankin - another of the club’s frontline seamers - is also nearing a return to action.

The defending Division One champions called upon young all-rounder Tom Milnes and new signing Oliver Hannon-Dalby for their opening fixture - a rain-hit draw with Derbyshire at Edgbaston.

However, Woakes is now available once again - having being rested following his winter commitments with England - and Barker has shrugged off the hamstring injury that saw him miss the Champion County meeting with MCC together with last week’s game.

“It’s great to have both of these guys back,” Warwickshire director of cricket Dougie Brown told

“They were mainstays of the championship-winning team last year and I’m sure they will make a significant difference over the course of the summer.”

Rankin, meanwhile, has been pencilled in for next week’s trip to Somerset after overcoming a second stress fracture in his foot.

“He’s pain-free now and he’s getting more confident every single day,” said Brown.

Chris Woakes

Chris Woakes, pictured, and Keith Barker each return to Warwickshire's squad this week after missing the season-opener against Derbyshire. "It's great to have both of these guys back," Dougie Brown told

“Boyd's performance last time he faced Somerset, in 2011, thrust him in to the national spotlight with their skipper Marcus Trescothick suggesting that his spell was as good as anything that he faced that season.

“He had a lot of bad luck with injury last year, but he is itching to get back out on the field and prove exactly why he has a reputation for being one the most unpleasant bowlers to face on the county circuit.”

Rankin added: “It's frustrating to miss the first two games of the season, but I've been working hard in the nets with (assistant coach) Graeme Welch and in the gym with (strength and conditioning coach) Chris Armstrong, ensuring that my body is in good shape for bowling long spells in the County Championship.”

Durham are unchanged from their win over Somerset, with Will Smith having shaken off an ankle problem that prevented him from fielding on the final day.

Middlesex - 10-wicket victors over Nottinghamshire last week - are without James Harris for their home game against Derbyshire, but welcome back England paceman Steven Finn as an ideal replacement.

Finn is available to make his first appearance of the summer and replaces Harris, who has a minor hamstring twinge and is being rested as a precaution, in the only change to the 12-man squad on duty at Trent Bridge.

Derbyshire have named an unchanged 13-man squad, with Jonathan Clare and David Wainwright hoping to gain starting berths after missing out against Warwickshire.

In this week’s other Division One fixture, South Africa opening batsmen Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen will be on opposite sides as they make their respective debuts for Surrey and Somerset at the Kia Oval.

Smith, Surrey’s new captain, is part of a 13-man party that contains three seamers to have represented England - the fit-again Chris Tremlett, Jade Dernbach and Stuart Meaker - together with winter signings Vikram Solanki and Gary Keedy.

“Selection has been very difficult for all the right reasons as everyone is fit and available and I have had to leave out some very good players,” said Surrey team director Chris Adams.

Somerset have England Test batsman Nick Compton available after he was rested for last week’s game with Durham.

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