STEPHEN COOK has four Specsavers County Championship matches this month in which to help Durham over their injury crisis and prove he is not here just to tune up for the Test series.

With Chris Rushworth and James Weighell taking the casualty list to seven out of 15 fully-contracted players, Gavin Main and Josh Coughlin are added to the squad to entertain Northamptonshire today.

Not required for the Champions Trophy, Cook will join the South Africa squad prior to the first Test at Lord's on July 6, making way for New Zealand's Tom Latham at Durham.

There is a danger of Cook repeating the 2008 efforts of Neil McKenzie, who averaged 19 in eight championship innings for Durham, then starred in the Test series.

When South Africa followed on, 346 behind, in the first Test, McKenzie batted for 553 minutes to score 138 as the tourists reached 393 for three.

He averaged 48 in the four games and after being named as one of Wisden's five cricketers of the year he told the almanac: “When I got to Durham the pitches were really wet and slow and I kept nicking off. But I learned to stand as still as possible. It definitely helped in the Test series.”

Although he made a century in the Royal London Cup, Cook has had three ducks and three other single-figure scores in his eight championship innings to date, He cannot blame Riverside pitches as only the first of the four matches has been at home and his chance of atonement comes with the visit of Northamptonshire.

Durham go to Canterbury next week, when it is hoped Rushworth (back) and Weighell (shin) will be fit with fellow seamers Graham Onions, Usman Arshad and Brydon Carse not far behind.

There is still no sign of a return for Jack Burnham, but it is hoped that Michael Richardson will be fit to return today.

Main, the 22-year-old Scot, is set for his second championship appearance three years after his first, during a similar injury crisis at Trent Bridge. He took three for 72 in a match reduced by rain to one innings per side.

He and 19-year-old Josh Coughlin are on development contracts, while left-arm spinner George Harding, who is again included, is still in the academy.

Main has had his own injury troubles, but played in a first-class match for Scotland against Afghanistan two years ago and featured in last year's World T20 Championship.

Coughlin made his first-class debut under the captaincy of his brother, Paul, against Sri Lanka A last summer.

Irishman Barry McCarthy seems certain to make his first appearance of the season and Coughlin senior will now be thrust into the role of leading the attack four days after bowling the fateful final over at Swansea.

With 14 needed, Australian Nick Selman hit him for six, six, two, but skipper Paul Collingwood said: “Paul doesn't need an arm round him. He's a very talented cricketer and the more he can experience these pressure situations the better he will be.

“The same goes for the other youngsters. We knew it would be a tough year and we would need everything to go our way. A lot of things have gone against us, but we will continue to try to win.

“We could have batted for a draw at Swansea, but in the position we are in we have to take the odd risk. There is no shame in trying to win matches and when a game goes to the last over with all three results possible that's a good thing.”

Durham are in the same position as they began the season, 48 points adrift of second-bottom Derbyshire on minus 24, following the three-wicket defeat at Swansea, where the loss of 16 overs straight after lunch on the final day proved crucial.

Although the only four-day meetings in the last 12 years were in Northants' division one season in 2014, Durham have often met them in one-day games, including at Riverside last month.

Keaton Jennings scored his second Royal London Cup century in four games in the 19-run win, having also made a ton in the opening championship game. But he has been less prolific since and will want to join Cook in regaining form ahead of their potential Test clashes.

Richard Levi, who looked like winning the RLC game for Northants until Collingwood brilliantly ran him out, is ruled out by concussion, suffered when he was struck on the head in the defeat by Worcestershire, who are now in a breakaway trio with Nottinghamshire and Kent.

After winning two of their first three games, Northants remain fourth but are 40 points adrift.

Durham (from): P Collingwood, K Jennings, S Cook, C Steel, M Richardson, G Clark, R Pringle, S Poynter, P Coughlin, B McCarthy, G Harding, G Main, J Coughlin