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Smith put in Australia Ashes party

Steve Smith has been added to Australia's Investec Ashes squad amid concerns over skipper Michael Clarke's fitness.

Smith has been drafted in as cover until at least the second Test at Lord's and will meet up with the original 16-man party tomorrow ahead of Australia's official tour opener against Somerset this week.

The hopes of Pakistan-born leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed appearing in the series appear to have diminished, however, after it was revealed he would return to Australia tomorrow to complete his citizenship.

Ahmed was tipped to be a late call-up when a bill was passed in the Australian senate last week to fast-track certain citizenship cases, yet that now appears less likely with the first encounter less than three weeks away.

Smith's inclusion comes after Clarke missed Australia's failed Champions Trophy defence, his long-standing back problem flaring up shortly after his side's arrival in the United Kingdom late last month.

There is hope Clarke could make his first appearance of the tour in the four-day game at Taunton from Wednesday but, with David Warner suspended until the first Test, Smith's inclusion has been deemed necessary.

The 24-year-old is already in England after captaining Australia A during their three-match tour, which culminated in a 24-run win over Gloucestershire in Bristol today.

"The NSP advises that Steve Smith has been added to the Australian Ashes squad until the beginning of the second Test when it will be reviewed," Inverarity said in a statement released by Cricket Australia.

"Given David Warner is unavailable for the upcoming tour games against Somerset and Worcestershire and while Michael Clarke continues to make good progress from a back injury, we feel further batting cover is required."

Ahmed managed just two wickets from two tour matches for Australia A, against Ireland and Gloucestershire, and returned figures of 0-80 today in a match attended by Inverarity and coach Mickey Arthur.

While Inverarity left the door open for him to return later in the series, Australia have instead opted to keep highly regarded young spinner Ashton Agar with the squad as a "development player".

"Fawad Ahmed will return to Australia tomorrow (Monday) while he goes through the processes required of him to become an Australian citizen and remains a player of interest to the National Selection Panel," said Inverarity.

"Ashton Agar is to accompany the Ashes squad until the beginning of the second Test as a development player.

"This will be similar to the situation when Mitchell Starc accompanied the ODI, T20 and Test squads on the tour to West Indies in 2012 as a development player."

Smith has played seven Tests and was a part of the Australia side that lost the Ashes on home soil last time out; he hit 133 for Australia A in their win over Ireland last week but returned scores of 10 and a duck in Bristol this week.

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