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Page last updated at 08:53 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 09:53 UK

Shoulder recovery fine - Durham all-rounder Blackwell

Ian Blackwell
Blackwell says he is happy at the Riverside

Durham all-rounder Ian Blackwell believes he is making good progress with his shoulder following an operation during the winter.

Blackwell's spin was an integral weapon for the county champions last season and the former Somerset player is working hard to return to full fitness.

"It's working for the bowling, but it's still not great for throwing," Blackwell told BBC Newcastle.

"There's still a lot of work to be doing as we start the season."

The North East county are plotting a hat-trick of titles in this season's Championship, having retained their crown with an unbeaten season last year.

And Blackwell is confident Durham can mount a strong defence with a relatively unchanged side.

"The squad hasn't changed at all and we have a couple of very good additions in Scott Borthwick and Ben Stokes," Blackwell added.

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"We've still a lot of guys to come back in, with Mark Davies, Liam Plunkett and Graham Onions.

"It all looks very good for us again, we're not going to take anything for granted of course but we've still got a very good squad."

Should Durham retain their title they will become the first side since Yorkshire, between 1966 and 1968, to seal a trio of titles in a row.

Durham were winners in their season's opener against the MCC in Abu Dhabi, and begin their Division One season with the visit of Essex to the Riverside between 15-18 April.



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