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Max Holden will be back for Northamptonshire as the Specsavers County Championship returns on Sunday with Gloucestershire visiting Wantage Road.

Holden spent the first half of the season on-loan and captained England Under-19s in their Youth Test series against India but he will return to for David Ripley’s side as they try to keep up their promotion bid. Northants lie fourth in the Division Two table, 22 points behind Worcestershire in second with a game in hand.

Having made 599 runs at 42.79 with two centuries in his first eight matches in county cricket, the left-handed Holden is Northants’ leading runscorer in the Championship this season and has shown the technique and temperament for the first-class game, drawing comparisons with Alistair Cook. Without a break for T20, he will be a key player for Northants who have a matter of hours to refocus on the red ball game following Saturday’s T20 at Worcester.

“We’re slightly hindered by injuries,” said head coach David Ripley. “But to have Max coming back is great – we were initially only thinking about him for the last five games but he got a hundred in his last game for us for why wouldn’t we have him back?

“We’re thinking about this game carefully because it’s a big fixture in our season.  We’ve got one or two bowlers who might get the red ball in their hand ahead of Sunday. It’s not ideal scheduling but we had four or five situations like this in previous years so we’ll take it. We’d got it much better now but we play so much cricket it’s difficult to get it ideal.

“All along we’ve wanted something to fight for at the end of the season and we’re well placed. Any other year, winning five games we’d be sitting higher than where we are now but it’s been a tight campaign and we’ve got some good fixtures to look forward to.

“There’s a lot of desire to do well in the four-day format. We get slightly harshly accused of not going hard enough in the Championship and being a bit too white-ball focussed but I can assure everyone there’s a lot of desire to be right up there.”

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