Alex Loudon is " apprehensive" ahead of his return to Canterbury today.

The tall 24-year-old righthand batsman and off-spin bowler makes his Championship debut for Warwickshire today and, in an intriguing twist of fate, it is against the club he left under a cloud at the end of last season.

Loudon's move to Edgbaston was more high profile than might be expected of a player of his limited experience and track record. He is promising, for sure, but it was the public nature of the spat at Kent that ensured the notoriety.

Loudon, who knows his figures hardly warrant the fuss and is keen to justify Warwickshire's faith in him, says: "I'll feel a lot more comfortable at Warwickshire when I have some good performances under my belt.

"I've been here only a month and I feel more settled every day. I was a bit disappointed with my performance on Sunday when I bowled a bit full. But I have an opportunity to establish myself now and I'll be looking to improve.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit apprehensive about going to Canterbury. But I'm looking forward to it and I'm looking forward to beating Kent.

"I'm not sure what to expect from spectators or players but I'm ready to deal with anything. It's up to them.

"I've spoken to one or two of the Kent guys in the last month or two and I wouldn't rule out being friends with any of them."

Kent were second in the Championship last season and some at the club believe they were more worthy champions than unbeaten Warwickshire. It is true that they won two more matches than the champions, but they also lost three times and, in a season bedevilled by conflict, spent as much time fighting each other as the opposition.

One of the main protagonists in the dressing-room split of last season was Rob Key. His fall-out with Ed Smith was a catalyst in Loudon leaving and it will be fascinating to see how the pair greet each other today. It promises to be a good deal frostier than the weather.

The former South Africa coach, Graham Ford, has taken over at Kent and will not tolerate further squabbling. He inherits a side, like Warwickshire, where bowling is their weaker suit.

Certainly their batting line-up is impressive. Key and Geraint Jones will play today and both have something to prove before this summer's international series.

England selectors are likely to be in evidence to weigh up the respective merits of Key and Ian Bell, apparent rivals for a spot in the Test side, while swing bowler Martin Saggers may fancy his chances of breaking back into the side.

Meanwhile, Tony Frost has

passed a fitness test and will play today in place of Keith Piper. Despite Piper's fine display against Glamorgan, Warwickshire back Frost's superior skill with the bat. n Warwickshire seconds lost by 71 runs to Lancashire at Old Trafford yesterday. They were dismissed for 131 in reply to 202 for four in a 45-over match, Steven Crook scoring 81. Jim Troughton top-scored for Warwickshire with 29 and conceded only 16 in nine overs.

Warwickshire seconds play Scotland at Moseley today and tomorrow in two one-day matches (11am). n Nick Archer has been appointed manager of the Edgbaston Cricket Centre but will continue as manager of the Birmingham & District Premier League.