England all-rounder Liam Livingstone targeting T20 World Cup warm-up game for injury return

Liam Livingstone is targeting England’s final T20 World Cup warm-up against Pakistan to return from an ankle injury that he feels has allowed him to have a mental refresh.

An innocuous stumble on a kerb in late August caused extensive ligament damage in Livingstone's left ankle and, although he is with England in Australia, he has a watching brief for the ongoing T20 series.

While England fear he may also miss their first World Cup match against Afghanistan in Perth on October 22, Livingstone is eyeing their practice contest five days earlier in Brisbane to prove his fitness.

However, the big-hitting all-rounder insisted England's enviable crop of middle-order batters means he is under no pressure to rush himself back into action before he is fully ready.

He told the PA news agency: "In my head I'm aiming for the warm-up game against Pakistan but if I push it too hard, too early you knock yourself back. We're trying to get that balance right; push it as hard as we can without aggravating it.

"I wouldn't want to go into a game not being 100 per cent. Ultimately, there's no selfish reasons to do that. I don't think that's the right thing for me to do and I don't think it's the right thing to do for the lads.

"We've got an unbelievable squad out here and I certainly wouldn't want to be representing my country at 90 per cent. It's improving really quickly. It's got much better quicker than I thought it was going to.

"Finally we're at the exciting part of the rehab, we're getting close and can see light at the end of the tunnel. I'm excited to be back out there and back playing."

On the same day he became the top draft pick for this winter's Big Bash League - underlining his status as a premier white-ball star - it emerged Livingstone was facing a lay-off after a freak accident.

The initial diagnosis was between two and three months out but six weeks on, he is batting pain-free in the nets and able to bowl, accepting the challenge is in the field with sharp changes in direction.

While he initially worried he would miss the upcoming World Cup, time away from cricket after a busy past few years with England and in T20 franchise leagues has been beneficial for Livingstone.

He said: "It wasn't ideal, but I'm a big believer in everything happens for a reason and maybe I just needed a break. I'd pretty much played three years of solid cricket so it's been nice to spend a bit of time at home.

"Now, I feel like I'm that kid again in the back garden wanting to play cricket every minute of the day.

"Something I've always found difficult is when the right time is to have that break. We've got short careers, you want to go around the world expressing your talent, you want to go and play in different tournaments.

"Coming out and playing in a Big Bash is great fun but you've got to remember we're playing cricket at the top level, the pressure of it and the mental side of it can get to you without realising.

"I've seen this injury as a real positive for me because it's given me time to get away from cricket. I went away for a holiday with my family to Portugal and literally came back a new man, you don't quite realise it until you've done it. Mentally the break's done me the world of good."

With Harry Brook impressing in Livingstone's usual position at five in the order, it may be the Cumbrian, who holds the record for the fastest T20 hundred by an Englishman, shifts down a position on his comeback.

Livingstone added: "I think everybody is now seeing what we see around practice every day. Brooky's one of those unbelievable talents.

"We've got 15 blokes that are capable of winning games for England and that's a great thing to be a part of."

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