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Australia's Clarke facing fitness race for Ashes

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

(Reuters) - Australia captain Michael Clarke will need a minimum of seven weeks before he can resume training but Cricket Australia (CA) expect him to recover from his lower back and hamstring injuries before the Ashes series against England starting in July.

Clarke missed the fourth and final test in India, where Australia suffered their first four-test whitewash in 43 years, to return home after the nagging back injury flared up in addition to a hamstring problem.

"Michael is having intensive rehabilitation for both his back and hamstring but is still 7-10 weeks away from returning to training and playing," CA chief medical officer Justin Paoloni said in a statement on Tuesday.

"We are confident that it will not affect his Ashes preparation but will know more over the coming weeks."

Clarke will miss the April 3-May 26 Indian Premier League and looks doubtful for the June 6-23 Champions Trophy in England.

Australia will stay back for the Ashes series, starting on July 10 with Nottingham's Trent Bridge hosting the first of five tests.

Paoloni said Clarke's back injury, if allowed to aggravate, could turn serious.

"Michael Clarke had scans that confirmed his current lower back injury is an exacerbation of previous issues he has had with his spine," Paoloni added.

"As always, we need to manage this carefully as there are potentially serious consequences with further aggravation. He still has pain with basic activities and is not back to full function as yet.

"He also has a hamstring injury that has been a concern for most of the (Australian) summer and will complicate his return."

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O'Brien)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130326/australias-clarke-facing-fitness-race-ashes