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County game has much to consider as early-season Championship dishes up thin gruel
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Chris Woakes remains troubled by a long-standing knee injury which has ruled him out for the first two months of the county season and Warwickshire have set "no timescale" for his return.
Woakes was due to make his first appearance of the summer against Somerset at the end of April but has not played since England's third Test against West Indies in Grenada and was not considered for the squad for the first two Tests against New Zealand next month.
Woakes has managed an issue in his right knee for the vast majority of his career, which he has previously described as "just a dodgy knee from too much bowling".
"He has been struggling with a longstanding knee injury and has also had a little ailment with his ankle, but it's the knee injury that is holding him back," Mark Robinson, Warwickshire's head coach, said. "At the moment there is no timescale on when he will be back."
Along with Mark Wood and Jonny Bairstow, he was one of three players involved in all of England's series last winter - the T20 World Cup in the UAE, the Ashes and the West Indies tour - and struggled for form, averaging 52.36 across six away Tests and conceding 20 runs in an over as New Zealand pulled off an unlikely chase in the World Cup semi-final.
He was entrusted with the new ball in the Caribbean in the absence of James Anderson and Stuart Broad but struggled for penetration, in keeping with his poor record away from home in Test cricket.
Olly Stone, Woakes' Warwickshire team-mate, is expected to play "some part" in their T20 Blast season after nearly a year out with a stress fracture of the lower back.
"Stoney has had a niggle around his hip cartilage which he picked up in a Second XI match," Robinson said. "We thought we had got him back but then he aggravated it in a club game, but he is progressing and is probably about 10 to 14 days away from ready, depending how quickly it heals.
"We are definitely hoping he will play some part in the Blast, though whether he will have the overs under his belt to play a four-day game in that interim period, we don't know."
Liam Norwell, another absent Warwickshire seamer, is in contention to return for their Championship fixture against Lancashire next month."He has had a tough time with one thing after another… [but] Liam is probably the closest to a return," Robinson added.