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Warne backs McGrath to face England

Investec Test Series
Glenn McGrath

Glenn McGrath has an elbow problem © Getty Images

Shane Warne is backing injured seamer Glenn McGrath to come through his fitness tests and be passed fit for the Ashes decider at The Brit Oval.

McGrath has been struggling to shrug off a right elbow problem sustained in a tour match at Northampton, which ruled him out of last week’s fourth Test defeat at Trent Bridge and last weekend’s match with Essex.

He has remained confident of recovering and taking his place in Australia’s line-up, but the tourists’ management have been less assured of his progress and on Monday called uncapped New South Wales paceman Stuart Clark into the squad as cover.

But with just two days to go before Australia face England needing victory to retain the Ashes, legendary leg-spinner Warne is backing McGrath to shrug off his problems and take his place for the most important Test in decades.

"I think he’ll be fine because he’s a champion," stressed Warne. "In these situations champions come to the top and if he can get the ball down to the other end then I think he’ll play - he wouldn’t let himself or the team down by saying he’s right when he’s not."

McGrath was due to undergo a fitness test in the nets at The Oval on Tuesday and Australia may leave their decision on him until shortly before the start on Thursday morning after he has bowled again on Wednesday.

"Everybody would like to know where they stand and what the side is as early as possible, which helps everyone prepare," said Warne.

"But when it’s Glenn McGrath, arguably the best fast bowler in the world, you want to give him every chance to play and if that means it’s a last-minute decision then it’s a last-minute decision."

Should McGrath fail to convince captain Ricky Ponting and physiotherapist Errol Alcott of his fitness, Australia face a choice between playing Michael Kasprowicz or Clark as an extra seamer or they could even play Stuart MacGill in partnership with Warne if they believe The Oval surface will turn.

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