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New Zealand will give Kane Williamson fitness leeway ahead of Cricket World Cup in India

WELLINGTON (AP) – New Zealand will consider naming captain Kane Williamson in its squad for the ICC World Cup in October in India even if he will miss early games while recovering from a knee injury.

Williamson will link up with the New Zealand during its series against England prior to the 50-overs World Cup to continue a closely-monitored recuperation from the ruptured right knee ACL he suffered in the Indian Premier League in April.

There are just over 50 days remaining before New Zealand plays England in its opening match at the World Cup on October 5. Coach Gary Stead said the New Zealand selectors will give Williamson every chance to prove his fitness.

“Kane’s working on a day-by-day, week-by-week process and we’ve been clear and careful with him that we don’t look too far ahead,” Stead said. “He’s progressed as we’ve hoped and possibly even better in some cases.

“But ACL injuries can be difficult, they’re different for every person. We’ll get the medical experts around Kane as much as we can to help us make that decision in three weeks.”

Stead said if Williamson continues to show promising signs of recovery, New Zealand will consider naming him in its World Cup squad even if he is not immediately available. That squad will be named in mid-September, setting a tight deadline for Williamson to convince the New Zealand medical staff that he is fit.

Stead said Williamson’s selection even if he had to miss matches is “something we are talking about”.

“If it’s the knockout stages then that might be too late as that’s something that you may not even be there, but if it was earlier in the World Cup we’d definitely be considering it.”

Williamson raised fans’ hopes when he recently posted footage of himself taking throw-downs in the nets. “He’s not facing bowlers yet but he’s basically doing everything else,” Stead said. “With the knee, we’re just being careful with how that twists.

“We couldn’t have asked for more from him in that space. It’s encouraging to see where he’s at and how he’s going but that doesn’t promise that he’ll be part of this World Cup squad just yet.”

New Zealand’s Kane Williamson receives the ODI series trophy. PHOTO: AP