DURHAM will back their seam attack against the spin threat of Sri Lankan Jeevan Mendis when they open their Royal London Cup programme at home to Derbyshire today.

Mark Wood is available for the first three of the eight 50-over games, but a tight groin might keep him out today.

The visitors will be without South African fast bowler Hardus Viljoen because of a knee injury, but believe leg-spinner Mendis can be a key weapon.

He has played in 54 one-day internationals and skipper Billy Godleman said: “He has a really cute change of pace and a dangerous googly. He can also bat, so he can be a big player for us.”

It's a must-win game for Durham as they begin with a two-point deficit as part of their ECB punishment and their next two matches are at Edgbaston on Monday and Headingley two days later.

Wood will want to prove his fitness in those games before joining up with the England squad for the one-day internationals against Ireland.

Following his third ankle operation last winter, he has bowled 66 overs in the opening two Specsavers County Championship games but has taken only three wickets.

Coach Jon Lewis feels he is progressing well, however, saying: “His ankle is fine but he came away from Bristol with a tight groin. We will decide before the match whether he's fit to play.

“We also have a decision to make about Graham Onions. He didn't play any white ball cricket last year but is keen to be involved.

“James Weighell is in contention. He's slightly ahead of Barry McCarthy on form and Barry will be joining up with Ireland next week.”

Other than the slight concern about Wood, Durham's only casualty is Jack Burnham, whose broken thumb will be X-rayed in two weeks. He is expected to be out for a month.

“We were hoping to get Jack more involved,” said Lewis. “He is the sort of player who can do well in modern one-day cricket.

“His absence doesn't leave us with many batting options. We will be flexible with the middle order. Michael Richardson could go in at three if we lose an early wicket, otherwise it might be Graham Clark. Paul Collingwood can play most roles.”

Collingwood reclaimed the one-day captaincy from Mark Stoneman last year after a 170-run RLC defeat at Northampton.

Stoneman announced shortly afterwards that he would be leaving at the end of the season.

Keaton Jennings has now taken on the 50-over captaincy and will have to consider whether to use his own medium pace bowling as well as opening the batting with Stephen Cook.

Jennings began in the lower middle order last season before opening in the last two matches once Phil Mustard had departed.

In the match at Derby the hosts won by seven wickets after Durham slumped to 75 for seven before Ryan Pringle hit 125 in a total of 216. Derbyshire eased home with 8.2 overs to spare with Ben Slater making 119.

“They are all tough matches, but we tend to play better at home,” said Lewis. “It would be good to start with a win and go to Birmingham on zero points.”

Durham announced yesterday that long-standing sponsors Port of Tyne will continue as the club’s Royal London Cup shirt sponsor for the next three years.