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Australia captain Michael Clarke remains hopeful Shane Watson will return to India

Clarke backs players to return

Michael Clarke: Hoping Shane Watson returns to India

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Australia captain Michael Clarke remains hopeful Shane Watson will return to the squad in time for the fourth Test against India in Delhi.

Watson was originally meant to leave the touring party after the third Test, as wife Lee Furlong is expecting their first child, but after being disciplined by coach Micky Arthur opted to return home to Australia.

His hasty exit led to much speculation about his future in the team but Clarke insisted there was still a chance Watson may be available in Delhi if the child arrives early.

Clarke also declared the 31-year-old Watson remained the team's vice-captain and said: "I'll be in contact with Cricket Australia ... but looking at what's happened through the Australian summer, one-day cricket, we haven't appointed another vice captain.

"Shane Watson's still the vice captain for this tour and at this stage he's gone home for the birth of his first child and hopefully we get him back for the fourth Test."

Important

There has been growing speculation in recent months that Watson and Clarke do not see eye to eye.

However, the skipper said he was certain this week's events were something his team-mate would learn from and maintained he still had a future with Australia.

"He definitely can (remain as vice-captain)," Clarke added. "There have been times throughout my career where I know I have let myself and the team down and you learn from that.

"'Watto' knows how important he is to this group. He knows he is a senior player in this group and both of us on this tour have learned a lot and spent a fair bit of time together, which has been good for me as captain and also 'Watto', I'm hoping, as vice-captain."