WORCESTERSHIRE have received encouraging news about the fitness of club captain Joe Leach.

It means the 27-year-old can now begin the final stage of his rehabilitation programme with a view to resuming playing seconds cricket during the next few weeks.

Worcestershire head of sports science and medicine Ben Davies said: “Joe has had a repeat scan and it was positive news regarding his back.

“He can now start his final phase of rehabilitation work before looking towards a return to playing.

“In the coming weeks he will hopefully return to second XI cricket with a view to returning to first-team cricket once he has adequate workloads.”

Paceman George Scrimshaw is back bowling after missing the pre-season tour of Abu Dhabi as a precautionary measure because of some stiffness around his lower back.

Davies said: “George is back bowling. It wasn’t anything too serious. We just didn’t want to risk him on tour and ramp his workloads up before he was ready.

“He is back to bowling and will be looking to play in the seconds in the coming weeks.”

Fellow paceman Dillon Pennington should also be available sooner rather than later as he recovers from a bruised heel.

Davies added: “Dillon will do gym work and we will introduce him back to bowling over the next few weeks and then we will get him back into second-team cricket.”

Three Worcestershire teams will be in action at Kidderminster’s Chester Road ground during the next week and a half.

Rapids continue their Royal London One-Day Cup preparation when they take on Gloucestershire in a 50-over friendly on Monday (11am).

Ollie Westbury, Daryl Mitchell and Charlie Morris return to the side.

Rapids chased down a target of 404 in just 45.1 overs in last Thursday’s encounter at Warwickshire.

Worcestershire reached the semi-finals of the cup for the second successive year in 2018.

On April 9 the early-season fixture between the academy and second XI teams will also take place at Kidderminster (11am).

The seconds' opening three-day friendly at Somerset was cancelled due to flooding.