Giles White admits he needs his talented youngsters to come of age as Hampshire bid to haul themselves out of their early-season slump.
The Rose Bowl outfit have registered just one victory in all forms of the game this season – a narrow CB40 success over Warwickshire almost a month ago.
And their hopes of only a second win at the ninth attempt have been dealt a blow with vice-captain Jimmy Adams away on England Lions duty, although Danny Briggs, who was also called up, has been cleared to play.
Hampshire’s task was tough enough before Adams’ selection, with today’s opponents Northamptonshire in a superb run of form.
The Steelbacks have made an unbeaten start to the season, with six wins and two draws.
That has sent Andrew Hall’s side storming to the top of division two of the County Championship and boasting a 100-per-cent record in the CB40 competition with three straight wins behind them.
But while it is in stark contrast to Hampshire’s early-season fortunes, White believes he has seen the green shoots of recovery in recent performances – particularly from his young charges.
The first-team manager said: ‘I have seen signs of improvement lately.
‘We haven’t been at our best so far and we’ve been the first to hold up our hands and say “this isn’t good enough”.
‘But in the past few games, I’d say there have been some positives.
‘The young players of Liam Dawson, James Vince and Danny Briggs have really shone. Those players have delivered some good performances for us already this season and we’re looking for that to continue.’
White is a positive character but needs a catalyst for a season that has hardly got out of the blocks.
And that boost could come from some quality players returning to strengthen his hand.
Kabir Ali performed well in the Championship draw at Yorkshire last week, while spinner Imran Tahir is due to return this weekend following his recovery from the injury he picked up at the World Cup.
Plus, Pakistan star Shahid Afridi will arrive for the t20 campaign, which starts in June.
White said: ‘To have the likes of Kabir Ali back playing is a major plus.
‘It was an injury we weren’t sure he was ever going to come back from, so it was great to see him bowl with skill and get through it.
‘He didn’t look like he was coming back from a major injury – that was very encouraging.
‘Imran Tahir arrives this weekend and Shahid Afridi arrives not long after. There is plenty to look forward to and plenty of positives.’