Worcestershire Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes is encouraged by the progress being made by 2017 overseas player John Hastings during his rehab following a patella tendon operation.

Rhodes was able to deliver a positive fitness bulletin after he and new skipper Joe Leach have spoken to the Australian all-rounder during the past few days.

Rhodes said the 31-year-old was close to being able to return to bowling.

That would bolster Hastings chances of being available for the very start of the new campaign although at this stage there is still no concrete news on whether he will hit that target.

Rhodes said: "I was in touch with John about four days ago and all things were going really well.

"You sort of anticipate some hiccup along the way at some stage with his rehab but that was promising.

"Then Joe Leach spoke to him yesterday (Wednesday) and again he was really, really excited about his progress.

"It is not long now before he is going to be back to bowling and, if he is back to bowling well in advance of our season, it means there is more chance of him definitely playing that first game.

"That is ultimately what we want to try and achieve. Whether he makes it, we still don't know but at the moment he is well on target. It is really good news."

Rhodes said Hastings is determined to start playing for Worcestershire sooner rather than later.

He said: "The most exciting thing about John's recovery is that he is desperate to get out on the field for us.

"It is amazing what you can do when your desire is so strong."