SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia have received a major boost less than a month before the start of the Ashes with the news that captain Michael Clarke will return to action for New South Wales on Tuesday, subject to a final fitness test on his injured back.
Clarke skipped the ongoing one-day tour of India to rest the injury, a degenerative condition which has troubled him since he was a teenager.
The 32-year-old batsman has made better progress than expected and will now skipper his home state against Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield opener in Blacktown.
Concerns over Clarke's back have consumed Australia before most test series over the last few years and team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris suggested he might be rested more often.
"We will get him up for the Ashes, one test at a time, but we are hopeful he will get through the whole series," Kountouris told the Daily Telegraph.
"I'm still very confident we will get a lot of cricket out of Michael but there are going to be times where we are firmer now when we say okay, you just can't play this game.
"Obviously we are prioritising test cricket, but we are going to have look at what he plays and when he plays. That's no different to what other sports do with their mature players."
England won the first Ashes encounter of the year 3-0 to retain the urn for a third successive series and arrived in Perth last Friday.
The first Ashes test takes place at the Gabba in Brisbane on November 21 before further matches in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)