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Root to get close-up view of Cook's convalescence

Alastair Cook faces up to the new ball Associated Press

Alastair Cook, in need of early-season runs to strengthen his conviction that he still has a Test future, will miss the first two Specsavers Championship games of the season before returning for the defending champions, Essex, against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl on April 27.

Cook's second match will come against a Yorkshire side also likely to include Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, one of the stand-out fixtures in the first weeks of the county season as Yorkshire attempt to avenge a 376-run thrashing at the end of 2017.

Cook has passed 50 only twice in his last 24 Test innings, stretching back to late July, although when he did so he went on to make a double century on each occasion.

But Root, his successor as England captain, has already stared down his worrying sequence and predicted that he will be back in an England shirt against Pakistan and India this summer.

Six members of the England Test squad who will shortly head home from New Zealand have been made available to get straight back into action on the opening day on April 13.

James Vince and Liam Livingstone are due to be the first to enter the fray, with their counties in action in the opening round of Division One fixtures which start on Friday week - Vince for Hampshire against newly-promoted Worcestershire at the Ageas Bowl, and Livingstone in his new role as Lancashire captain at home to Nottinghamshire at Emirates Old Trafford.

Then Mark Stoneman and Ben Foakes are set to face Vince's Hampshire when Surrey begin their Division One campaign at the Kia Oval on Friday April 20 - when the Somerset pair of Craig Overton and Jack Leach will make their first county appearances as England players at home to Worcestershire at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

All six players will remain available for the three further rounds of Championship matches that are scheduled before the start of the Royal London One-Day Cup on May 17.

The England management have yet to make a decision on the early-season availability of James Anderson for Lancashire.

England player early-season availability:

Alastair Cook (Essex): Hampshire (April 27-30), Yorkshire (May 4-7), Worcestershire (May 11-14)
James Vince (Hants): All games from April 13
Liam Livingstone (Lancs): All games from April 13
James Anderson (Lancs): TBC
Dawid Malan (Middlesex): Glamorgan (27-30 April), Sussex (4-7 May), Gloucestershire (11-14 May)
Eoin Morgan (Middlesex): All games
Stuart Broad (Notts): Worcestershire (27-30 April), Hampshire (4-7 May), Lancashire (11-14 May)
Mark Stoneman and Ben Foakes (Surrey): All games from April 20
Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow (Yorks): Essex (4-7 May), Surrey (11-14 May)
Liam Plunkett, Gary Ballance, and David Willey (Yorks): All matches.