Steelbacks boss Ripley provides injury update on Levi and Muzarabani

Richard Levi has been nursing a neck injury
Richard Levi has been nursing a neck injury

David Ripley has confirmed that Richard Levi and Blessing Muzarabani are close to returning to full fitness.

Neither player has been able to take part in a Vitality T20 Blast match so far, with big-hitting batsman Levi nursing a neck problem and Zimbabwean pace bowler Muzarabani out with a stress fracture.

But the duo could play a part for Northants' second team next week as they close in on a Steelbacks comeback.

"Blessing had a stress fracture and it wasn't great news," Ripley explained. "It was a slight stress fracture rather than a season-ending one so he's back bowling now.

"He's still got limited numbers he can bowl but it is T20 and it's not like we've got to build him up to bowl a large amount of overs in a day.

"We've got to build him up to bowl four overs and field for an hour so it's possible he could be back ready for selection in a week or 10 days' time.

"Hopefully he might play in the second team next week and it's the same with Richard Levi. We hope he can throw his hat into the ring to come back in.

"We'll probably have played six matches so there will still be eight games to go for those guys to come back in and get in the team."

On Levi's injury, Ripley added: "Richard's had a neck injury but it's linked to the nerves in his arm so it's an uncomfortable injury.

"He's got neck pain and nerve pain in his arm but it's something he has had before so we know how to treat it, but it takes a little while for him to recover.

"He's had it since just before we went to play Derbyshire in the Championship so he's had it for a few weeks now and he's making some progress.

"He practised on Tuesday with us so now it's about getting him 100 per cent fit."

Northants have not had the luck they desired this season, with key man Ricardo Vasconcelos recently ruled out for the remainder of the campaign due to an ankle injury.

And Ripley said: "Ricardo would certainly have been pushing for a start, having impressed so much in the other two formats, as would Blessing.

"Blessing was earmarked for T20 cricket because with Richard Gleeson leaving we saw him as someone with a bit of pace and bounce that could perhaps take Richard's place in the side.

Blessing Muzarabani is on his way back from injury

Blessing Muzarabani is on his way back from injury

"Richard Levi has been a very successful part of our T20 campaigns in the past. Its his main format so he is a big loss.

"With those three guys being out, it has hurt us a bit, but we've still seen glimpses of what we're capable of.

"In terms of the longevity of the tournament, we still hope to get Richard and Blessing back in the mix, but unfortunately Ricardo has finished for the season."