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Morgan to take it slow with Stokes and backs Rashid

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NEWS
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830   //    17 Feb 2018, 17:43 IST

MorganStokes - cropped

England captain Eoin Morgan (L) and Ben Stokes (R)

Eoin Morgan has vowed to ease Ben Stokes back into international cricket after the star all-rounder returned to the fold ahead of their ODI series against New Zealand.

Stokes has only played briefly in New Zealand's domestic 50-over tournament since a late-night incident in Bristol during England's ODI series with West Indies last September.

After pleading not guilty to a charge of affray last week, Stokes has been released on bail and his case sent to Bristol Crown Court, with the first hearing - which he is not required to attend - scheduled for March 12, allowing him to resume his international career.

Stokes is highly unlikely to be considered for Sunday's tri-series clash with New Zealand, in which England need a big win to make the final, and Stokes has even suggested that subsequent one-dayers against the Black Caps could see the Durham man eased back gently.

"He's far from fit and he would run a huge risk of getting injured," Morgan told BBC Sport.

Injury update: Liam Plunkett will miss the the remainder of the IT20 Tri-Series as well as England's ODI Series against New Zealand following a minor recurrence of a left hamstring tear during our latest T20. pic.twitter.com/3urdYBGk4S
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) February 16, 2018

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"He'll take a few days to adjust to everything and hopefully be fit for the start of the one-day series [which begins on February 25].

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"It'll be a gauge, he hasn't played in competitive cricket for quite some time now, so if his body does react in a way which we feel might not be fit for the start we'll have no hesitation in easing him back in."

Another England player to court much attention in the week is Adil Rashid after the leg-spinner opted to ditch red-ball cricket at county and international level through 2018.

Rashid is a key cog in Morgan's ODI and Twenty20 sides but has failed to cement his Test spot in 10 appearances in the longest format.

Morgan himself has not played first-class cricket since 2015 and has backed the Yorkshireman.

"It's a very brave decision and the right one for him at the moment," the captain said.

"T20 has gone through the roof and his focus with our World Cup next year and the World T20 in 2020 can only be a good thing for our white-ball cricket."

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