LONDON (AFP) – David Warner is to rejoin Australia's squad in England on Monday, a team spokesman told AFP, as the controversial batsman eyes a recall for a third Test that the tourists must win to keep their Ashes hopes alive.
Warner was banned in the run-up to the opening match of the series after punching England batsman Joe Root in a Birmingham bar in June following Australia's defeat by their arch-rivals in the Champions Trophy one-day tournament in June.
His subsequent lack of match practice saw the selectors send him out to join the Australia A side on their tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa.
That meant Warner missed the first two Tests of the five-match Ashes series, both of which Australia lost as they went down by 14 runs at Trent Bridge and then suffered a 347-run hammering at Lord's.
Last week 26-year-old left-hander Warner, who can open the innings, made 193 against South Africa A in a drawn four-day match in Pretoria.
But the second innings saw umpires twice having to halt play as sledging involving Warner and South Africa A wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile boiled over.
These incidents again raised questions about Warner's temperament but an Australia team spokesman confirmed the New South Wales batsman would be rejoining the squad in Manchester, northwest England, where the third Test starts on Thursday at Old Trafford.
"We are travelling to Manchester today (Monday) and David Warner will link up with us there," said team spokesman Matt Cenin.
With no Australia batsman having yet made a century this Ashes series and the side bowled out for just 128 in the first innings at Lord's, Warner could yet find himself in the top order at Old Trafford.
Usman Khawaja replaced Ed Cowan for the second Test at Lord's and scored 54 in Australia's second innings, before Cowan made 66 and 77 not out against Sussex in last week's drawn three-day tour match at Hove.
Opener Chris Rogers has made only 89 runs in four Tests innings this Ashes while Phillip Hughes has made just 83, with 81 of those coming in one innings -- his other scores being 0, 1 and 1.
However, Australia coach Darren Lehmann said that Warner was not guaranteed an immediate return to the Test side.
"He's not a certainty, no," Lehmann said. "He got 193 and played well, did exactly what we wanted him to do. We want blokes to make hundreds and he's ticked that box.
"Again we'll have to look at the wicket and we come up with the top six."
In 19 Tests, Warner has scored 1,263 runs at an average of nearly 40 with three hundreds.
The reverse at Lord's was Australia's sixth successive Test defeat following a 4-0 series loss in India earlier this year -- their worst run of results since 1984.
Failure to win at Old Trafford would see holders England retain the Ashes as the best Australia could then hope for would be a 2-2 series draw.
Meanwhile another loss would see Michael Clarke's men equal the unwanted record of their 19th Century predecessors, with the only Australia side beaten in seven straight Tests suffering defeats by England from 1885-88.