Published: 06:00, 08 August 2019
Sam Billings is in contention to make his comeback from injury when Kent travel to face Somerset in the T20 Blast on Saturday.
The Kent skipper has been sidelined since dislocating his shoulder in April’s Royal London One-Day Cup match against Glamorgan.
Having initially been ruled out for up to five months, the 28-year-old launched an inspired effort to accelerate his recovery.
On Billings’ chances of making the squad, Kent head coach Matt Walker said: “It’s a possibility, absolutely.
“There are a few things that need to be tested, the strength around that shoulder is obviously really key.
“He’s hit thousands of balls over the last two or three weeks and has built up really nicely.
“With these things you take one step at a time, one day at a time, you don’t want to look too far ahead because if you build up to a certain date and it doesn’t happen it can be quite de-moralising.
“He’s doing everything in his powers to be ready. In terms of how he’s hitting the ball he’s looking brilliant.
“It’s not just about that, I suppose it’s the confidence in that shoulder if he does end up having to go over or dive.
“Fingers crossed it all goes to plan and we might see him very soon.”
While Billings edges closer to his return, Grant Stewart faces a lengthy spell out of action after suffering a hamstring injury during Sunday’s win over Hampshire.
Walker added: “He’s had a scan and it’s probably a six-week injury, it’s a hamstring tear so it’s not ideal for him.
“I think we all knew it was going to be pretty significant by the way he went down and how he was after it.
“Hamstrings are very delicate things so we have to make sure he gets it right without putting it under risk. If there’s opportunity for him to play over the back end of the season then that’s great.”
The news arrives as an untimely setback for Stewart, who has battled his way back into the Kent team after starting the season out injured.
“It’s very cruel on Grant,” admitted Walker.
“Any sportsman will tell you being injured is the worse thing in the world.
“Going though that rehabilitation process is always a bit of a mental struggle and it's frustrating because everybody wants to play.
“Grant has had a few, last year he was plagued by a bit of an injury and then the start of this year.
“He's just got himself back in the team in four-day cricket and done nicely, he's had an opportunity in T20 which I know he's been wanting and then for that to happen at the end is really cruel.
“It's sport and it's tough and all the lads feel for him desperately.
“We'll have to make sure he really looks after that hamstring, you don't want that plaguing his career.”
Imran Qayyum could also return against Somerset at Taunton after dislocating his finger in Friday’s defeat to Sussex.
“He's good,” said Walker. “There is no real further damage, the scan was positive and the specialist had a look the other day and said it's in a good place.
”Now it's a case of Immy starting to feel comfortable with it. If there's no operation needed it's a case of feeling comfortable and, in his case, being able to grip the ball.
”Hopefully he'll be back Saturday if he comes through, that may be a game too soon perhaps, but certainly for the following week I'd like to think he'd be back.”