JOSH Tongue has set his sights on picking up 50 wickets in a season for the first time and an England Lions call-up.

The Worcestershire paceman looks to put his injury frustration well and truly behind him.

He put together hauls of 47 County Championship wickets from 14 games in 2017 and another 40 at Division One level from 11 matches last summer.

But injuries prevented him from being part of the 2018 Lions winter trip to the West Indies and then the meeting with Pakistan in the UAE before Christmas.

However, Tongue, 21, is feeling fit ahead of the pre-season tour of Abu Dhabi.

He said: “I’ve been happy with how things have gone overall in the last two seasons but now I want to get to that 50-wicket mark in a season.

“If I had played the other three games I missed through injury last season, potentially I could have got there then.

“It would be nice to get to that this year. I have been close with 47 in 14 games and 40 in 11 matches.

“The first year in the side gave me a lot of confidence. To get 47 wickets the first year and play every game in the Championship was a massive achievement for me.

“I didn’t think I was going to be playing every game after having my back injury before that season got under way.

“To then back it up last year in Division One cricket against better players felt really good.”

Tongue showed his quality and potential with nine wickets against the then-champions Essex at Blackfinch New Road before picking up a foot injury.

He said: “You definitely learn a lot more playing against the higher standard players.

"You can’t get it wrong that much. In Division Two you may get away with a few deliveries.

“But in Division One you’ve got to be on the mark literally from the first ball.

"You can’t have any looseners otherwise you could be two overs for 20 runs.

"Then it is hard to get your economy rate down below three.

“To get past 40 wickets in a season is good but I want to go on from that now and get 50, 60, 70 wickets a season.”

Although missing out on two Lions trips Tongue did have the opportunity to show what he is made of when bowling in the nets to the England players in Australia during the winter of 2017-2018 when part of a Lions training camp.

He said: “To get on any Lions trip is an achievement, especially bowling to the likes of Joe Root, Alastair Cook, Jonny Bairstow, etc.

“It was a great opportunity to bowl at those lads from the top level of cricket and a good way of showing what you are capable of.

“You’ve got the England coach there, the captain and all the senior bowlers, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Chris Woakes, so it was a great opportunity.

“I missed out on two Lions tours to the West Indies and UAE and to get selected for them is still a big ambition for this season 100 per cent.

“If I start well for Worcestershire hopefully I will get back onto the Lions radar for any cricket this summer and get picked on the tour next winter.

“It was quite disappointing to be injured and to not be able to go to the UAE. Hopefully I can stay fit the whole year and get on the Lions trip.”

Meanwhile, Moeen Ali is set to feature in the opening match of the 2019 Indian Premier League — and will not have to wait long for a meeting in the tournament with Worcestershire team-mate Martin Guptill.

The England all-rounder, retained for a second campaign by Royal Challengers Bangalore, and his team-mates will travel to face reigning champions Chennai Super Kings.

The curtain-raiser is in the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday, March 23.

Guptill, Worcestershire Rapids’ 2019 overseas signing for the Vitality Blast, was snapped up at auction by Sunrisers Hyderabad for 140,00 US dollars.

Their first match is at Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, March 24.

The New Zealand star is in line to face Moeen and RCB at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Sunday, March 31.

Amongst Guptill’s team-mates will be England wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow and fellow Black Cap Kane Williamson.

Guptill had previously played in the IPL for Mumbai Indians (2016) and Kings X1 Punjab (2017).

Sunrisers’ head coach is ex-County player and director of cricket Tom Moody who was at Blackfinch New Road from 1991 until 2005.

Guptill is available for 11 of the 14 group games in the Blast for Worcestershire this summer plus any potential quarter-final or finals day.

Worcestershire Women’s Rapids will play in a trio of away friendlies ahead of the new season.

They are training at Prince Henry’s School, Evesham, and will soon be back out in the middle ahead of competing in Division Two of the ECB 50-over and T20 competitions.

Rapids have 50-over fixtures at Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Nottinghamshire on April 14, 21 and 28 respectively.

In 2018 Worcestershire were promoted back to Division Two of the 50-over competition at the first attempt but got relegated from T20 Division One after one season.

Gareth Davies is in his first season as Rapids’ head coach after two years as assistant.

Ex-County paceman Steve Magoffin is assistant coach as well as being lead coach and managing the women’s pathway programme.