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Stokes told to stay away from Durham
DURHAM will embark on their second week of pre-season training today without Ben Stokes, who was told to take a break for three weeks after being sent home from the England Lions tour of Australia.
Coach Geoff Cook said: "I saw him soon after he got back and it was our decision that he should take three weeks away from cricket.
"It was a chastening experience for him and hopefully he will react well to it, which would be to our benefit and England's."
Stokes was sent home with Kent's Matt Coles for what was deemed excessive drinking. Leg-spinning all-rounder Scott Borthwick was also on the tour but barely featured and will join up with Durham this week, when Mark Stoneman and Mitch Claydon are also expected back after playing in Australia and New Zealand.
All the players are fit apart from four-day skipper Paul Collingwood, whose hand will remain in plaster for a further week following the operation to repair a damaged tendon.
He will join the rest of the squad for four days at Loughborough, starting on March 24, but will be restricted to fitness work. It is hoped he will be able to pick up a bat by the end of the month.
Left-arm swing bowler Jamie Harrison, who played in three championship matches last year before developing shin splints, has been awarded a one-year contract.
"We will look at extending that if he gets on the field and does well," said Cook.
"He has just completed his rehabilitation programme after seeking advice about his problem and sticking to it."