Former Australia captain Steve Smith, whose ban in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal is due to end by March, may miss out on the ICC World Cup beginning May. This delay in return to international cricket is to ensure his recovery from elbow surgery is complete and he peaks in time for the Ashes, reported ESPNCricinfo.

Smith and David Warner were given year-long bans for their role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year. With the ban preventing them from playing international and domestic cricket, the duo spent the time playing club cricket and international Twenty20 leagues.

However, both Smith and Warner ended up sustaining elbow injuries towards the end of their ban periods and needed surgery. This development has prompted Cricket Australia to reportedly consider a staggered return for the two over the course of the World Cup and the Ashes this year

“We’ve got to keep working on how they are with their elbows, first. They’re going to need to get some cricket before coming back into the squad. It’s all part of the management. We’ll have to wait and see,” Australia coach Justin Langer was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.

“We’re talking about two great players, we’re not talking about two really good players. Two great players who on paper we’d be crazy not to have them in the team. It’s about how much cricket they get to play between now and then. They’ll find opportunities. We’ll find opportunities, but I can’t say anything else,” he added.

The long-term vision is to manage Smith’s return from what is major elbow surgery in a way that helps him perform at his peak in the longer format instead of pushing him to recover in time for the 50-over World Cup.

He could also end up playing first class cricket with Australia A on the tour concurrent to the World Cup or for one of the English county sides, the report continues.

Warner, who is a crucial part of Australia’s limited-overs side, has a quicker recovery time from his own elbow surgery. He looks set to be part of the ODI series squad against Pakistan in UAE immediately after his ban ends.