Assistant coach Matt Mason says the Worcestershire players are "itching to start playing again" after months of indoor training as they prepare for the pre-season tour of Abu Dhabi.

The 17 strong squad plus six coaches and backroom staff will fly out to the UAE from Heathrow this evening for the 11-day trip.

For the past four months, the players have been put through their paces by Strengthening and Conditioning Coach Ross Dewar at New Road and then in the nets at Malvern College.

But now the build-up to the 2016 season switches out into the middle with matches against Essex, Warwickshire and Derbyshire plus four days warm weather training.

Mason, who is also the County's bowling coach, said: "I think first and foremost it's just reward for the lads to get some time away from Malvern indoors. They've worked so hard since November really.

"It is a nice chance to get the whole squad together. Everyone comes back from all around the world and everyone gets to see each other again after their winters away which is always nice.

"It is a really nice place to tour. It is nice to have the sun on your back and play some cricket in some warm weather.

"The guys are itching to get out there and start playing. You can imagine after three or four months of gym work and drilling in the nets, facing bowling machines, it's nice to get out there in match scenarios and get stuck into some cricket.

"It also feels the season is that much closer and everyone is looking forward to it."

Worcestershire have a total of 12 days cricket – five in Abu Dhabi and seven in this country when they return – to hone their skills before the County Championship opener against Kent at New Road on April 10.

Mason said: "It is ideal (preparation) really. We've just got to have our fingers crossed that the weather is kind to us when we get back.

"Obviously we are going to be at Kidderminster for the first couple of weeks when we get back but the facilities over there are very good.

"We've just got to gear up for that first game against Oxford, the first competitive match, and even after that we've still got some good time to the first Championship match against Kent here.

"Abu Dhabi sort of gets the ball rolling, gets us out there hitting balls and practicing well, and we have the nice period then of trying to adjust again to English conditions which can be difficult early season."

First year professionals, paceman Josh Tongue and spinner Ben Twohig, are part of the County squad.