Champions Trophy: Australian captain Michael Clarke could return to action for crucial clash with Sri Lanka

Clarke has missed both of their Champions Trophy games due to a back injury but is hopeful of playing some part in tomorrow's Group A decider

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The Independent Online

Australia captain Michael Clarke is hopeful of a return to action in Australia’s final Champions Trophy against Sri Lanka, which takes place tomorrow at the Oval, following a back injury.

Clarke has missed the Aussie’s opening two games of the championship, though he has had enough on his plate off the pitch having to deal with David Warner after the batman hit England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham bar following their opening defeat.

Despite Warner being suspended until the first Ashes Test on July 10, Clarke insists the squad have moved on from the incident.

"I'm hopeful, no doubt about that, but I really have to wait to see how I pull up tomorrow morning after training again today," he told a news conference on Sunday. "My back is certainly improving, which is a positive.

"The feeling in the camp has obviously been a little bit different...because of a little bit of disappointment in one of our players. We left it there as a team and we look forward."

There were fears among the Australian camp that Clarke could miss part of the Ashes, having suffered a similar back injury in the past. But the batsman insists he is confident in himself to be fit for the series.

"Yes I'm confident (of playing in all of the Ashes), but I was confident I'd play every game in this series so you are asking the wrong guy," he said.

Australia must beat Sri Lanka to stand any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals, having already lost to England before their clash with rivals New Zealand was rained off.

Coach Mickey Arthur is yet to decide whether Warner will play a part in the first Test, as not only will he have had no cricket for over a month, he is worryingly out of form.

"We've got plans to give him some centre-wicket practice etc, but it would be (a risk to play him in the first Test) and I guess it's a chance for the other batsmen in the squad to step up in the first two practice games," explained Arthur.

"Because if they do that, they're likely start in the first Ashes Test."

He added: "We've got to give David (Warner) the best possible chance, the best possible preparation to be ready for the first Test match if we select him.

"He's now gone from the white ball to the red ball, so he's working daily on that."