Joe Clarke believes he can compete for a first team spot at New Road but knows he has to "score runs and keep really well if I want to put myself in contention."

Clarke took great encouragement from the recent words of Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes who feels the wicket-keeper and his England Under-19 team-mate Ed Barnard are capable of challenging for a senior spot this summer.

He is determined to work as hard as Tom Kohler-Cadmore who earned a place in the side after impressing during the build-up to the 2014 campaign.

But Clarke has his feet firmly on the ground as he looks to follow up a successful winter with South Perth by striving to impress during the forthcoming pre-season tour of Abu Dhabi and the warm-up games in this country.

Last season's number one keeper Ben Cox has also enjoyed a successful winter with Greenvale Kangaroos Down Under on the back of an impressive year at New Road in which he scored his maiden first class century against Hampshire.

Clarke said: "Was I encouraged by Steve Rhodes' comments? Of course. For me and Ed, with whom I share a place in Worcester and have been very close friends since a young age, all we want is for each other to perform well and play first team cricket.

"So to hear Bumpy's comments recently has been overwhelming but the ball is in our court now. We'll get an opportunity to impress and we've got to take it with both hands. I can't wait!

"Do I feel ready to challenge for a first team spot? Yes I do. I feel as though my cricket is improving and I feel ready to compete.

"I feel my keeping has come on a lot since I've been here (in Australia) and my batting has carried on from the summer which was what I wanted.

"Like Pepsi (Tom Kohler-Cadmore) last year, I'll work really hard to try and get an opportunity and if I do then I'll cherish it and try my hardest to perform my best for the team.

"But I know I've got to score runs and keep really well if I want to put myself in contention."