Australia head coach Justin Langer has backed Steve Smith and David Warner to return to the team for the World Cup but said the duo will have to prove their fitness after picking up elbow injuries.While Warner had a minor surgery and is expected to be fit, captain Steve Smith is still in a brace which will be removed only towards the end of February.

“We’ve got to keep working on how they are with their elbows first,” Langer was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

“They’re going to need to get some cricket leading into hopefully coming back into the squad. It’s all part of the management. We’ll have to wait and see what happens there.”

The ban ends on March 29 and the pair could be available for the latter half of the ODI series against Pakistan but if they don’t regain full fitness, then IPL will be their last chance to get some match practice ahead of the World Cup in May.

“(It’s about) how much cricket they get to play between now and then, but I’m sure we’ll find opportunities,” he said.

“They’ll find opportunities … but I can’t see anything else (stopping them).

“We’re talking about two great players. We’re not talking about two really good players, they’re two great players who, on paper, we’d be crazy not to have them in the team (for the World Cup).

“We know it’s been a tough time for them, it’s been a tough time for Australian cricket.

“And the … integration has been going for the last nine or ten months, or eleven, it’s getting closer isn’t it. And that’ll be a continued process.”

Australia’s World Cup squad is expected to be announced by April 23. They will play warm-up games against Sri Lanka and England before starting their title defence against Afghanistan on June 1.

First Published: February 5, 2019, 12:30 PM IST