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First team coach Mark Robinson believes it is "testament to our players" that the heavily-depleted Bears remain in contention in both the Vitality Blast and LV=Insurance County Championship.

The Bears are heading into a huge week which will bring the climax of the group stage of both competitions and have everything to play for despite injuries, Covid and England calls biting deep into their squad.

They will face Worcestershire in their final championship match on Sunday, placed second in Group A. Victory or, almost certainly, a draw with good haul of bonus points would secure them a top two finish.

Either side of that match they face their last three T20s, away to the Rapids tomorrow then at home to the Rapids and Steelbacks the following Friday and Sunday, knowing that two wins would probably see them qualify.

The Bears’ T20 campaign – won five, lost five – has been inconsistent, perhaps understandably so as a string of key players has been lost. West Indian all-rounder Kyle Mayers has been recruited to reinforce the squad for the vital ten days ahead and Robinson believes that his mostly young squad has risen admirably to the challenges of recent weeks,

“We have been tested,” the coach said. “Other teams have been too, of course, so it’s not just a hard luck story for us, but it does test you and it becomes distracting with injuries and Covid and then the Hundred coming around and players thinking ‘am I going to be in?’

“You have to deal with all these things and put enough performances on the table to give you a chance of qualifying in both competitions. That we have done that and are still in the mix in both is testament to our players.

Mark Robinson

“The fact that it is not a done deal yet in either tournament shows where we are – we are a work in progress. But we have got a bit about us and we have a chance.”

While Mayers will make his debut at New Road tomorrow, Carlos Brathwaite remains sidelined by Covid, though he will be back for the crucial home double-header next weekend. The latest additions to the injury list are seamers Tim Bresnan and Olly Hannon-Dalby.

“From a T20 point of view it has been quite hard work,” Robinson said. “At the start of the competition we had Henry Brookes pencilled in and expected to see quite a lot of Olly Stone but neither has bowled a ball.

“Then we lost Adam Hose early on and Jake Lintott for three and Carlos for three. Tim Bresnan has done a calf and Olly Hannon-Dalby has a heel injury which isn’t short-term either. Then Danny Briggs gets called up.

“We have had a bit to contend with but the players have shown a lot of resilience. Jacob Bethell, who wasn’t available for the championship game this week with a sore knee, has had a scan which has come out all clear so that’s good.

“Looking ahead to the championship match at Worcester, we  might feel there is someone outside the camp who could bring us a boost if we bring someone in on loan. We can also play Kyle there if we want to, so we have options.”