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Ross Taylor confident of fitness for England tour despite calf strain

The batter has a grade one strain and will look to return to action next week

Ross Taylor punishes some width on offer, New Zealand vs Pakistan, 1st Test, Mount Maunganui, 1st day, December 26, 2020

New Zealand will have their fingers crossed that Ross Taylor's injury isn't serious  •  AFP via Getty Images

Ross Taylor has been diagnosed with a grade one calf strain after he limped out of New Zealand's first training session ahead of their departure for England with a calf injury.*
He was batting in the marquee that has been built at the high performance centre in Lincoln to enable the squad to train over the next couple of weeks. An update from NZC on Tuesday said he would remain with the squad for his rehab.
"Taylor will to return to batting and running next week before linking up with the Test squad ahead of their departure for England next weekend," a statement said.
Taylor said he had felt the tightness last week as he continued the rehab from the hamstring injury which disrupted the end of his home season but was confident he had time to get right before the England Tests.
"Pretty happy with where it is, timing has been really good," he said. "Would like to be injury free, obviously, but timing-wise it's not too bad."
New Zealand coach Gary Stead admitted any injuries this close to a tour were a concern. "You are always worried when any injuries happen but someone of Ross's standing and calibre as a Test player you always have a little bit of a concern," he told reporters on Monday. "Fingers crossed everything is good and we still have time on our side, but we'll just have to wait and see what the medical team say."
The New Zealand squad are due to depart for England in the middle of May ahead of the two-Test series that begins on June 2 to be followed by the World Test Championship final against India in Southampton.
Stead hinted that even if there was some doubt over Taylor's immediate fitness he would likely make the trip. "Ross has a great Test record behind and we want him in our team," he said.
New Zealand are likely to be without their IPL-based Test players - Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Mitchell Santner - for at least the first match against England and potentially both given the strict quarantine rules now in place for arrivals from India that require 10 days isolation.
They have named an expanded squad of 20 for the two England Tests which will be trimmed to 15 ahead of the WTC final.
Devon Conway is in line for a Test debut while the uncapped Rachin Ravindra has also been included. All the players in New Zealand have had their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine and will have their second before leaving.
Monday was the start of two training camps they will have prior to departure with conditions created to as closely resemble what they'll encounter in England as possible.
"We've got two open wickets, the groundstaff have done an amazing job in getting the facilities up pretty close to what I think English conditions would be like then we have the marquee as well," Stead said. "We are still a month away from playing England so there's still four weeks of good, solid preparation so today is the start of that for us."
11.52pm GMT, April 3 - the story was updated with details of Taylor's injury