Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes believes young England Under-19 duo Joe Clarke and Ed Barnard "are capable of playing first team cricket."

Rhodes says wicket-keeper Clarke and all-rounder Barnard will be given their opportunities during the county's tour of Abu Dhabi in March and other pre-season games to stake their claim.

Clarke and Barnard are currently impressing during the winter in Australia with South Perth CC and Queanbeyan District respectively.

They have both stated their desire to try and challenge for a first team spot in 2015 – their first full seasons as fully fledged professional cricketers.

Rhodes said: "They are both capable of playing first team cricket as talented England Under-19 cricketers. They are doing relatively well this winter.

"Playing in the Perth District competition 'A' grade, which is what Joe is doing, there are a hell of a lot of first team county players gone out there and not been able to do what he has done already with the bat.

"He was initially batting down the order and he has forced his way up the order. I actually take my hat off to him.

"In a short space of time, in what is a difficult place to prove to people that you can play, he has managed to do it.

"With Ed, possibly it is a slightly easier standard, but when you go and play as an overseas player, as young as Ed and Joe both are, there is quite a lot of pressure on you.

"So for him to come away with a century and take wickets and bowl tight, I think it is really exciting and they have both decided to try their best to challenge for first team spots early season.

"I take my hat off to them. I just love the fact they want to put their hat in the ring for a first team spot.

"They will get chances pre-season in Abu Dhabi, they will get chances pre-season in England in the games like all our players will, and good luck to them.

"Hopefully they can do that and get picked for that first game against Yorkshire."