A victory and a couple of favours would suit the Steelbacks just fine

David Willey is likely to be fit for the Steelbacks' must-win clash with Essex
David Willey is likely to be fit for the Steelbacks' must-win clash with Essex

Only victory will do for Northamptonshire Steelbacks in their final Royal London Cup group game against Essex today (Thursday, 2pm).

Should David Ripley’s side get the better of the visitors, who have already qualified for the last eight, and both Leicestershire and Derbyshire lose then a quarter-final spot will be the reward.

Should any of this particular equation not fall into place then the Steelbacks’ season, to all intents and purposes, will be as good as over.

With that in mind, the hosts, who are without a LV= County Championship game until a week on Sunday when they travel down to Taunton to face Somerset, are likely to put out as strong a side as possible.

The XI fielded against Lancashire last week, with a Championship game hot on its heels the following morning and qualification appearing unlikely, wasn’t as strong as would usually be selected.

But head coach Ripley, now that the landscape has been altered to some degree, says that normality could well be resumed.

He continued:“Ideally we’d like to get a couple of injured players back (Olly Stone and Steven Crook).

“Hopefully David Willey will be back. He’s got a bit of a shoulder problem but we’ll try to nurse him through that and we’ve got a bit of a rest after this fixture.

“Both (Andrew) Hall and (James) Middlebrook will come under consideration – Stephen Peters is unlikely to because of injury – so we’ve got a bit more than the bare bones to pick from.

“We’ll be competitive and we’ll be looking to get through to the quarter-finals.”

As for the visitors, victory would almost certainly secure them a home tie in the knockout stage but should the County prevail and Gloucestershire get the better of Derbyshire then they would have an away tie on their hands.

Steelbacks from: Coetzer, Levi, Rossington, Keogh, Kettleborough, Duckett, Spriegel, Willey, Middlebrook, Azharullah, Crook, Stone, Chambers, White.