Somerset hope to unleash Thomas
Somerset could be boosted by the return of experienced paceman Alfonso Thomas as they look to get back to winning ways in Division One of the LV= County Championship.
Thomas flew back to England today following a stint with Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League, but a late decision will be made on whether he is able to face Yorkshire at Taunton.
Somerset director of cricket Brian Rose told the club’s official website: "We want to see how Alfonso is after his journey and whether or not it would be wise to ask him to play so quickly.
"We have missed his competitive spirit and feisty character in the dressing room, as well as his skill with ball and bat. He hasn't played in all his IPL club's fixtures so hopefully he will be fit and ready to go."
James Hildreth is available again after captaining England Lions against Sri Lanka last week and replaces Craig Meschede in the squad, but wicketkeeper-batsman Craig Kieswetter is unlikely to feature as he continues to receive treatment for a quad muscle injury.
Yorkshire are boosted by the return of three key players, with skipper Andrew Gale and wicketkeeper-batsman Jonathan Bairstow back from Lions duty and Anthony McGrath also in the squad following a spell on the sidelines with sciatica.
However, opening batsman Joe Sayers, who scored two half-centuries at Aigburth last week, is ruled out with a bruised foot.
The two nearest challengers to championship leaders Lancashire will do battle at Edgbaston when Warwickshire host Durham.
The north-east county have added Mitchell Claydon and Gareth Breese to the XI that defeated Worcestershire in their last outing, but Graham Onions is not available following his exertions with the Lions.
Lancashire travel to eighth-placed Hampshire looking to build on their dramatic four-wicket win over Roses rivals Yorkshire last time out, although they will be without England paceman James Anderson.
In Division Two, Owais Shah will make his championship debut for Essex when they take on his former club Middlesex at the County Ground.
Shah, who made the switch from Lord’s over the winter, has missed the start of the domestic campaign due to his commitments with Kochi Tuskers Kerala in the IPL.
However, he returned in time to feature in Sunday’s Clydesdale Bank 40 victory over the Unicorns and is now in line for a first four-day appearance this term.
Shah’s availability comes as a welcome boost for Essex, as Alastair Cook is on England duty this week.
Head coach Paul Grayson is also able to call on Ravi Bopara, who missed last week’s draw with Surrey in order to play for England Lions but then missed out on selection for the first npower Test.
Middlesex have recalled Dan Housego and Sam Robson following their nine-wicket defeat to Glamorgan.
Opener Scott Newman misses out, while England Test captain Andrew Strauss will be otherwise engaged as he partners Cook at the top of the order against Sri Lanka in Cardiff. Eoin Morgan and Steven Finn are also in England's squad for that game.
Leicestershire welcome back James Taylor and Paul Nixon for their trip to unbeaten league leaders Northamptonshire.
Taylor, like Hildreth and Bopara, is available again after playing against Sri Lanka for the Lions, while Nixon has recovered from the knee injury that ruled him out of the club’s last two championship fixtures.
Nixon’s replacement, Paul Dixey, scored a valuable unbeaten 72 to guide Leicestershire to a draw against Gloucestershire last time out, so it remains to be seen who will make way for the veteran wicketkeeper.
Tom New could also return from a broken toe, but Nathan Buck will miss out after scans showed he has suffered a stress fracture of his ankle.
Northants are without Niall O’Brien, who sustained a hairline fracture of his left hand in the Clydesdale Bank 40 victory over Hampshire last week, so David Murphy will continue to deputise behind the stumps.
Ben Howgego will make his first appearance of the season in the absence of Mal Loye, who is suffering from a sore shoulder and slight groin complaint, while David Lucas replaces the rested Lee Daggett.
Glamorgan will have to make do without in-form paceman James Harris when they take on Surrey at the Kia Oval.
Harris, who claimed eight wickets against Middlesex last week, is suffering from a sore foot and has been replaced in a 13-man squad by left-armer Alex Jones.
Surrey are without England duo Kevin Pietersen and Chris Tremlett, while Stuart Meaker and Yasir Arafat are also out after picking up hamstring injuries during last week’s Whitgift Festival matches.
However, Jade Dernbach returns after taking nine wickets for the Lions and is joined in the squad by Jason Roy, Chris Jordan and Tom Jewell.
Seamers Jonathan Clare and Steffan Jones return to Derbyshire’s four-day squad for their game at Kent.
The duo missed the recent draw against Essex through injury but came through last week’s Clydesdale Bank 40 tie against the Netherlands with no ill effects.
Mark Footitt and Paul Borrington have also been named in a 14-man party and could make their first championship appearances of the season.