Worcestershire have received some heartening early New Year fitness news with paceman Josh Tongue on schedule to be fit for the pre-season tour of Abu Dhabi in March.
Academy product Tongue missed the finale of last season following his withdraw from the England Under-19 squad in late July after feeling soreness in his back during a two day warm-up match with Unicorns at Loughborough.
Tongue underwent surgery in early September for a lumbar spine injury and the 19-year-old has spent the first half of the winter undergoing rehabilitation work.
He is now back with the squad undergoing a full strengthening and conditioning programme and will step up his running during the next couple of weeks before a return to bowling at the County's winter Malvern College base in mid January to early February.
Tongue is regarded as one of the County's brightest prospects and made his first class debut at the start of last season against Oxford University in The Parks.
Worcestershire first team physio Ben Davies said: "Josh Tongue is going really well with his rehab. He is on schedule at the minute after having that surgery in September.
"He has done his strengthening work in the certain areas we needed to strengthen to ensure his back is in a good position when he gets back to full activities.
"He is back in with the rest of the group now with Ross Dewar (strengthening and conditioning coach) doing full strengthening sessions and we are just building up his running at the minute.
"He is going to be sprinting within the next couple of weeks and then we will be looking to get him back into bowling in mid January-start of February to get him fit for the pre-season tour.
"We will do that over at Malvern College and get him back off a long run.
"Everything is on schedule, he has done really well. He has put in a lot of hard work, two sessions a day, pool sessions every afternoon at the White House.
"He is on schedule, he has done really well."