Worcestershire are confident that England paceman Simon Jones will be fit for the start of the new domestic season in April.

Jones underwent the latest bout of knee surgery in October after a successful 2008 campaign in which he helped the Pears gain promotion to Division One of the LV County Championship.

The former Glamorgan player - one of the stars of England's 2005 Ashes triumph - is currently undergoing rehabilitation work with the county physio Ben Langley.

But Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes is optimistic Jones will be ready to spearhead the county attack in April. And Rhodes, the former England wicketkeeper, said: "Simon has been working up his rehab. He won't start running until the new year but there are loads of other things we have got him doing and he will still be fit.

"We don't want him doing the sort of pounding work now that might set him back a step but, as things stand at the moment, Simon will be fit for the start of the season.

"To have him available again will be a massive boost because everyone knows what a key part he played for us last season and he had such an impressive strike rate. He worked so hard last winter and his figures were excellent."

Jones took 42 championship wickets - his most successful season of county cricket - and together with Kabir Ali (59 wickets) formed a deadly attack.  He was part of the initial England squad of 30 for the eventually aborted Champions Trophy.

A lot of Jones' success was down to Rhodes carefully rotating him and allowing plenty of time to rest and recuperate in between matches with a similar plan likely to be put in place in 2009.

Rhodes said: "We will have to probably manage his situation carefully again so he can still be playing until the end of the season but it paid off last season."