Jonathan Trott is expected to take the first step on his long road to returning to cricket this week with discussions about playing for Warwickshire.
Almost three months after the former England batsman left the Ashes tour early with a stress-related illness, Trott hopes to meet the new managing director of England cricket, Paul Downton.
As a centrally contracted player, England have a say in when Trott returns to cricket and it is understood the discussions will focus on making himself available for his county's first fixture of the season.
Yet despite the new England selector Angus Fraser hinting that the 32-year-old's absence from Warwickshire's pre-season tour to Barbados could cast doubt over his readiness to return to first-class cricket, Trott's agent confirmed that he is making good progress and is "on schedule" to feature in the match against Oxford University at The Parks, which starts on 7 April.
"Since Jonathan returned from Australia, his over-riding aim was to return to play for Warwickshire at the start of the season," read a statement from Eleven 01 Management. "He continues to make good progress and is on schedule to return for the Bears as intended.
''At no stage was there any intention for Jonathan to join Warwickshire on their pre-season tour of Barbados and therefore he was never omitted from the trip."
Fraser, who was confirmed as the third member of England's new-look selection panel alongside Downton and national selector James Whitaker last week, had said that given Trott's absence from the Warwickshire tour "you would wonder if he would feature at the start [of the season]". However, it is understood that the former England No 3 is optimistic about making a comeback.
Trott left Australia at the end of November after being dismissed twice by the fast bowler Mitchell Johnson in the first Test in Brisbane, with former coach Andy Flower stating at the time that the batsman would be "taking an indefinite break from all cricket". Trott's condition has been monitored by England and Wales Cricket Board officials, although they appreciate he cannot be rushed back into international action.
Warwickshire refused to comment on whether Trott will be ready to play against Oxford, although the director of cricket Dougie Brown said earlier this week that "he has heard nothing from the ECB about when he might be ready to return".
"We have said all along that we are here when he is ready to come back but we do not know exactly when that might be," Brown added.
Meanwhile, concussion has forced South African all-rounder Ryan McLaren to withdraw from the Proteas squad to face Australia in the second Test in Port Elizabeth, which starts tomorrow.
McLaren was admitted to a clinic in Johannesburg with mild concussion and suffering from nausea the day after being struck on the helmet by a fierce bouncer from Johnson during the first Test.
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