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Australia captain Michael Clarke set to make comeback for New South Wales

Michael Clarke: Set to play for New South Wales

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Michael Clarke could make his return to action in the Sheffield Shield this week, a huge boost for Australia ahead of the Ashes.

The Australia skipper still needs to pass a fitness test on his troublesome back but the fact that he is even a possibility to play for New South Wales is big news for the hosts.

The star batsman was ruled out of Australia's one-day tour of India this month and there were fears he could miss the first Test against England starting on November 21.

But after intensive treatment for a degenerative disc condition, which has been an issue since he was a teenager, the prognosis is good.

Progress

"Michael is progressing well and recently recommenced batting in the nets," Australian team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said.

Clarke's back problem flared up again before Australia's final ODI against England in Southampton last month, at the end of a gruelling five-Test Ashes tour to England, which Australia lost 3-0.

He played in that game, but selectors were reluctant to take any more risks given the big home summer coming up, and ruled him out of the India tour.

Other Ashes series contenders playing for NSW this week include paceman Josh Hazlewood, spinner Nathan Lyon, all-rounder Steve Smith and batsman David Warner.