Durham captain Ned Eckersley has insisted that he and his team-mates are ready for a promotion battle to end the Specsavers County Championship Division Two season.

They head into the final stretch of the campaign, starting today at Lord's against Middlesex, unbeaten in their past seven matches in the Championship. Durham sit in fifth place in the Division Two table, although only 10 points behind Northamptonshire in the final promotion spot.

Eckersley, who was appointed as captain last month following Cameron Bancroft’s Ashes call-up, believes that the tight nature of the competition could work in his side’s favour in their bid to regain a place in Division One - three years removed from their demotion.

“We’re in a good position for the last three games like a number of counties are,” he said. “It’s a mini-season within a season now with three games to go. It’s going to be nip-and-tuck, there are obviously five or six teams that can still be promoted.

“An advantage for us is that we’re playing Middlesex, Northamptonshire and Glamorgan, who are all in the race themselves. We know if we win those games we’re taking points off the teams around us.

“We have to go in with the mind-set that if we carry on producing the form we have over the last seven games then we’re going to have chances to win those matches. If we beat the teams at the top it’s obviously going to put us in good position.”

Durham had struggled to compete at the top end of Division Two for the past two seasons, winning only seven of their 28 matches since they were relegated.

Jon Lewis left the club as part of a re-shuffle during the winter, which saw Marcus North arrive as director of cricket and James Franklin to fulfil the lead coaching duties. After a slow start to the Championship season, Durham have shifted momentum in their favour, handing the club a huge opportunity to regain their place in Division One.

Eckersley added: “James and Marcus obviously wanted to come in and shake up a little bit, but there remains a core of Durham players in the squad, who have come through the academy which is crucial. They teach everyone what it means to play for this club and they’ve been through the tough times and know what it’s like.

“As a fresh face into the changing room like a few others have been as well, we know what this club stands for and where they’ve been in the past both in terms of success and where they’ve been in the last couple of years. It took a bit of time for us to find our form this season.

“We didn’t play our best cricket in the first four games, although we did play decent at times and we did have some opportunities to win, but we didn’t grasp those moments. Everyone is on the same page now wanting to turn it around and to get this great club back to Division One and winning trophies like they have shown in different formats.”