England’s assistant coach –Paul Farbrace has denied injury concerns surrounding Ben Stokes' Test return against New Zealand, insisting that the all-rounder has enough time to be ready for the Auckland Test.
The 26-year-old has picked up a back niggle during the recently concluded victorious One Day International series against the Black Caps. It is also learned that Stokes has not trained since suffering the injury in the fifth ODI as he was given an injection on Tuesday to alleviate the pain.
With a back niggle, Stokes missed England's two-day warm-up opener against a New Zealand XI on 14 March.
Although Farbrace said he should be fit to play in a second warm-up, starting from Friday, the all-rounder is likely to play only as a batsman in the first Test, starting on 22 March at Eden Park.
Farbrace told Sky Sports UK, “There’s plenty of time next week for him to get overs and be ready for the Test match in Auckland.”
It would have been Stokes' first appearance in the competitive match since September 2017 when he played his last Test against West Indies, and after which the all-rounder has ruled out the action following his alleged involvement in a fray outside a Bristol City nightclub on 25 September. However, the 26-year-old has pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray.