TEST players Kurtis Patterson and Nathan Lyon have been named in the NSW Blues squad, featuring Ulladulla United product Matthew Gilkes, to play Victoria at the Sydney Cricket Ground from Friday.
NSW sits in a commanding position at the top of the Sheffield Shield ladder with five wins and a draw for the season.
Patterson, who suffered a quad injury late last year, is playing his first match of red ball cricket since October.
Nathan Lyon also makes his return to the longer format of the game following his successful Big Bash League campaign with the Sydney Sixers.
Sixers' Championship winning captain Moises Henriques has also been named in the Blues squad along with teammates Daniel Hughes and Stephen O'Keefe.
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Sean Abbott is unavailable for selection after being selected in Australia's T20 squad to tour South Africa.
Daniel Fallins and Nick Bertus have also been left out from the 13-man squad chosen for the Queensland match in December.
Blues coach Phil Jaques said he will be looking for his side to build on its positive start to the Shield season when they resume red ball duties against Victoria - a side which includes Nowra's Nic Maddinson - on Friday.
"We're just looking to try and continue from where we were in the first half of the year and keep getting better as a team going forward," Jaques said.
"But we need to keep improving as a side, that's going to be the message for the players when they come back in.
"To keep improving as a team, keep building momentum towards what might be a final, and then make sure we're equipped to win that final."
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Jaques said the inclusions of the internationally experienced Patterson and Lyon will be welcomed by the squad.
"We've been able to put some good sides together all season and having those guys back in the mix, it certainly adds to our squad depth, which is fantastic," Jaques said.
"Having someone with international experience to come back into our side, who are both class acts, it certainly does improve our team.
"We're happy to have them around the Blues family and hopefully we can get the business done against Victoria."
NSW Blues squad: Peter Nevill (c), Trent Copeland, Harry Conway, Matthew Gilkes, Liam Hatcher, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin ,Nathan Lyon ,Steve O'Keefe, Kurtis Patterson and Daniel Solway.