Returning Australia Test stars Steve Smith and David Warner can silence critics in the England crowd by starting strongly in the Ashes, says former star Glenn McGrath.

Smith and Warner are set to play in the longest format this week for the first time since they served bans for their roles in a ball-tampering fiasco in South Africa last year.

The pair endured some light jibing from supporters during the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales, but it is anticipated Test returns at Edgbaston might see a harsher welcome.

McGrath believes the best way for Smith and Warner to respond will be to make a fast start in Birmingham on Thursday.

"I think they are professional and they're both two quality players, both fairly mentally tough as well," McGrath said of the duo.

"It's important to get off to a good start. If they get off to a good start, start scoring runs and answer with the bat, then they'll be fine.

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"They've got a little bit of a taste of it during the World Cup - I think, in a couple of matches against England, the crowd let them know what was coming up - so they'll be expecting it.

"But if they go out there and score runs, it'll make it better for them."

Warner sustained a bruise to his left thigh on Monday, but England also have fitness concerns, with James Anderson facing a race to be fit for the opener.

And McGrath sees Anderson as key to home hopes in the upcoming series.

"I think [seam] will have an impact, there's no doubt about that," he said. "Jimmy Anderson has got so much experience.

"I think he's played 148 Tests, about 575 wickets, I think I saw the other day, which is absolutely incredible. And when the conditions suit him, with that Dukes ball, he's better than anyone on the planet.

"The Australian batsmen have to adapt to that and get on top of him. And the Australian bowlers have to adjust and adapt to bowling different lengths here to what they do back home.

"It will have a big impact and the Dukes cricket ball just feels so good in the hand - big seam and happy days."