England's Ben Stokes in talks with Canterbury over cricket return in New Zealand

 
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Stokes has not played a competitive game since September (Source: Getty)

Ben Stokes could return to cricket as soon as this weekend, with his representatives discussing a potential deal with New Zealand's Canterbury Cricket Club.

After pictures of Stokes at Heathrow airport prompted speculation that the suspended all-rounder could be returning to England for the Ashes in Australia, it was confirmed that he was instead flying to New Zealand.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said the former international was making a private trip to spend time with his family, but Canterbury have confirmed that they've entered into informal negotiations with the 26-year-old.

Read more: Ben Stokes is not travelling to Australia for the Ashes, confirm ECB

"The CCA Board and New Zealand Cricket will independently be considering this issue in the near future," said Canterbury Cricket chief executive Jeremy Curwin.

"But until then, we are unable to provide any more detail on the status of the deliberations. As and when there are any further developments we will of course release further statements."

Stokes has been given a non-objection certificate by the ECB to play domestic cricket although he remains suspended for England until it is made clear whether or not he will face criminal charges for his role in a late night altercation in September.

According to reports Stokes has already been earmarked to play for Canterbury against Otago in their 50-over Ford Trophy match this Sunday.

If he does play, it will mark the New Zealand-born cricketer's first competitive game since England's one-day international against the West Indies on September 24.

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