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Clarke optimistic over fitness

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Skipper Michael Clarke is confident he will be fit to lead Australia in this summer's Investec Ashes.

Clarke's fitness was cast into some doubt after a long-standing back problem flared during the tour of India earlier this year.

The injury forced the 32-year-old to miss the fourth Test, as his side were whitewashed, and start a recovery plan to ensure he is ready for back-to-back Ashes series.

Michael Clarke

Australia Test captain Michael Clarke said: "I need to make sure I'm fit. I'm really confident that with the work I've been doing that I will be."

The right-handed batsman revealed his return was going smoothly ahead of his departure for England later this month for the Champions Trophy and then the Ashes in two months' time.

"I need to make sure I'm fit. I'm really confident that with the work I've been doing that I will be," he said.

"I've managed to play 90-odd Test matches and only missed one through my career so that's a big part of why preparation is so important for me."

Clarke revealed former vice-captain Shane Watson was also on course to return to bowling duties in England.

Watson has not bowled for his country for the past six months - as part of a programme to ensure his fitness before the Ashes - but has resumed all-round duties for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.

"Shane Watson is one of the best all-rounders in the world, there's no doubt about that," said Clarke.

"It's exciting to see him back bowling in the IPL and hopefully he'll be able to do that for Australia as well soon.

"He's been having some success in the IPL with bat and ball. He's a big player for us and we want him fully fit with bat and ball."

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