MICHAEL Clarke will play for Australia in Thursday's Ashes opener at the Gabba after recovering from his back injury.

The Australia vice-captain, who had injections last week to speed up his return to fitness after hurting himself in a Sheffield Shield match, has proved his readiness in nets and training.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting confirmed: "Michael Clarke has got through his work particularly well the last couple of days and had a long, solid bat in the nets again. Doug Bollinger and Usman Khawaja are the two who are not playing [from the squad of 13]."

Ponting reports Clarke fit enough not only to get through the first Test but to stay in rude health through the whole series.

Asked if his deputy might be around 80% fit, Ponting said: "He's better than that. He's done all his fielding. I wouldn't have thought there would be a risk involved.

"It's a big game for us at the start of the series, and you don't want to go with a cloud hanging over anybody.

"That was why he was asked to do as much batting as he has done. We couldn't afford to leave any stone unturned as far as preparation is concerned.

"He has had injections. He had injections a little while ago, I think, almost immediately after the Shield game when he pulled up sore."

Clarke has an apparently chronic frailty in his back, but has yet to miss a Test match because of it.

"His history is that he's had these type of back complaints for most of his career," added Ponting. "He gets through games; he pulls up a bit sore, does all his recovery - and gets up again and plays. I'm not sure what the long-term prognosis for this one is. All I know he's ready to go for this game."