DURHAM will decide this morning whether to unleash Melvyn Betts against the Derbyshire team he destroyed at Darlington.

The England A paceman has been troubled by knee problems since taking seven for 30 in the innings victory at Feethams.

He missed the game at Old Trafford then returned at home to Somerset before being ruled out of the last two matches following a minor knee operation.

Betts last night joined the 12 who were on duty at Taunton last week and the first decision for Durham will be whether to retain spinner Nicky Phillips.

If they do there will be only one place available for Betts, Steve Harmison or Neil Killeen, who was 12th man against Somerset.

Coach Norman Gifford denied there was any pressure from the England management to play Harmison.

"Obviously they are keeping tabs on his fitness," he said. "But there has been no input from them about how they want us to handle him."

Gifford said he had no worries about any players being unsettled by approaches from other counties as Durham prepare for two games they need to win to retain Division One status.

"That's always going on, but it is not apparent to us at the moment," he said. "All the lads are fired up for two big games and if we play to our potential we can win them both."

Since the win at Feethams Durham have drawn four games and lost two. They are 21 points ahead of Derbyshire who will be stronger than at Darlington with Dominic Cork and Rob Bailey in the side.

Durham: N J Speak (Captain), J J B Lewis, M A Gough, S M Katich, P D Collingwood, J A Daley, A Pratt, J Wood, M M Betts, S J E Brown, S J Harmison, N Killeen, N C Phillips.

l MIDDLESEX captain Justin Langer continued his excellent run of form with an unbeaten 76 on a rain hit opening day of the County Championship Division Two match with Gloucestershire at Bristol.

The Australian star, with two centuries from his previous two games, pulled Middlesex round from 24 for three in the 12th over to 151 for five at tea, when heavy rain ended play.

It was the second interruption of the day, with 75 minutes of the morning session also lost to rain.

Jon Lewis claimed three for 61 to move past 50 wickets for Gloucestershire this season, while there was one apiece for Mike Smith and Tim Hancock.

The sides occupy the bottom two places in the table, but such is the tightness of the league that promotion remains a possibility for both counties.

Gloucestershire, with a game in hand on most of the other sides, went into the match without Kim Barnett and Jack Russell.