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Jofra Archer set for County Championship return as injury comeback steps up

Joe Denly takes time off for personal reasons while England's IPL players remain in quarantine

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Jofra Archer bowled 29.2 overs for Sussex's 2nd XI last week  •  Getty Images

Jofra Archer bowled 29.2 overs for Sussex's 2nd XI last week  •  Getty Images

Jofra Archer will continue his return to fitness by playing for Sussex against Kent in the County Championship this week.
Archer's last first-team appearance was the fifth T20I between England and India in Ahmedabad on March 20. He had surgery on his hand at the end of the same month, following a bizarre injury involving a fish tank, and has been managing an elbow problem which led him to withdraw from the whole of the IPL before its postponement.
Archer got through 29.2 overs for Sussex's second XI against Surrey last week, though did not bowl in the second innings, and it is understood that his involvement in the Championship fixture this week remained unclear on Wednesday morning.
However, he has since been named in a 13-man squad, and looks set to play his first first-class match for Sussex since September 2018 in a seam attack also featuring Ollie Robinson and the returning George Garton. Ian Salisbury, the club's head coach for Championship and List A cricket, said: "Any team in world cricket would be excited to name Jof in their squad for a game. Everybody is aware of his talents."
Salisbury had stressed the need to "look at the bigger picture" following Sussex's heavy defeat to Northamptonshire last week, saying: "Are we going to force him to come back when he's actually England's player? Say he gets an injury and he can't play in the Test matches this summer - I wouldn't be very popular."
Sussex do not have a Championship fixture on May 20, meaning this is likely to be Archer's final chance to prove his fitness before England's first Test of the summer, against New Zealand at Lord's on June 2.
Meanwhile, Kent have announced that Joe Denly, whose most recent Test for England came against West Indies last summer, will miss the fixture at Hove. "[He] is currently taking some time away from the game for personal reasons and is therefore unavailable for our next match," a club statement said.
Denly has struggled for form in the first five rounds of games, scoring 96 runs at 12.00 in his eight innings with a top score of 31.
Nine of the 11 England players who were in India when the IPL was curtailed remain in hotel quarantine, while Chris Jordan is in Barbados and Eoin Morgan is in the Maldives - which has been added to the government's travel red list since his arrival.
Ashley Giles, the ECB's director of men's cricket, said on Monday that their involvement in the round of fixtures starting next week would be judged on a "case-by-case basis", with England due to announce a squad for the Test series against New Zealand early next week. That squad will then enter a bubble during the round of Championship fixtures starting May 27.
Mark Wood and Joe Root will play for Durham and Yorkshire respectively, though Jack Leach has been rested for Somerset's home fixture against Surrey. Tom Banton has also been recalled after being left out of their win at the Ageas Bowl, with Steven Davies, the former England wicketkeeper, missing out due to a "minor operation".
ESPNcricinfo revealed on Sunday that Warwickshire expect to have Dom Sibley available in their next Championship fixture - against Essex on May 20 - following a broken finger. "If all goes well and I train well this week, hopefully I'll be able to play for the second team next week [against Northants on May 17] with a view to putting myself in contention to play at Essex later that week," he said.
Elsewhere, Cameron Bancroft's first appearance of the season has been delayed by visa issues, with Durham extending Will Young's deal with the club by one game as a result. Billy Stanlake is available for Derbyshire selection for the first time, while Worcestershire have rested their overseas signing Alzarri Joseph and Middlesex have dropped Max Holden.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98