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Otago is in fifth place with two round-robin games remaining. The Volts could lose today and still slip into the playoffs if other results go its way.
But that is not plan A. The team needs a good performance after a string of disappointing results which have resulted in the side dropping out of the top four.
Kitchen's return will add value to a batting line-up which faltered during a six-wicket loss to Central Districts in Invercargill earlier this week. He will also be an asset with the ball.
Captain Rob Nicol has a hand injury and has not been bowling, so Kitchen's left-arm spin will provide the skipper with another slow bowling option alongside Michael Rippon and Mark Craig, if he is named in the starting XI.
''It is always great to see one of your players at the international level. But it is good to have him back for this game which is a must-win for us,'' coach Rob Walter said.
''You never want to be in the position where you are depending on other results but it is actually possible [to win one game and progress].
''But we want to win both games and get on a bit of a roll. But it is nice to know there is potentially some wriggle room.''
Northern Districts will be without experienced all-rounder Anton Devcich. He is playing in the Hong Kong Blitz T20 tournament.
Former international Daniel Flynn will replace Devcich in the line-up, while Black Caps leg-spinner Ish Sodhi joins the 13-strong squad.
Northern is in third and can secure a playoff spot with a win.