Caster Semenya will be among leading South African athletes at Gold Coast 2018 ©Getty Images

World champions Caster Semenya and Luvo Manyonga are the leading names included in a preliminary South African athletics team for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

A total of 23 athletes have so far been included in a list due to be submitted to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee on January 4.

Olympic champion and world record holder over 400 metres Wayde van Niekerk is a notable omission after sustaining a knee injury during a celebrity touch rugby match.

Semenya will attempt to win double gold over 800 and 1,500m in the Australian city.

The 26-year-old attempted the same double at this year's World Championships in London, winning bronze in her lesser favoured longer event before securing a third world title over two laps.

Kenya's Olympic bronze medallist Margaret Wambui and Melissa Bishop of Canada are among likely opponents over 800m.

Reigning world, Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya will be the hot favourite over 1,500m.

Wayde van Niekerk is missing the Commonwealth Games due to injury ©Getty Images
Wayde van Niekerk is missing the Commonwealth Games due to injury ©Getty Images

But Semenya will benefit from the absence of Scotland's Laura Muir, the World Championships fourth-place finisher who is skipping the Commonwealth Games to focus on veterinary exams.

Manyonga, the world champion and Olympic silver medallist in the long jump, will expect to lock horns with England's London 2012 champion Greg Rutherford in their final.

World bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai will also feature in a strong South African team.

Two gold medal winners at the last Commonwealth Games in Australia, at Melbourne in 2006, are also included in 400m hurdler LJ van Zyl and javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen.

Breyton Poole, a 17-year-old world youth high jump champion, is also on the list.

It is possible that more athletes could secure qualifying standards and be added to the team.

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled for April 4 to 15 next year.