Both Smith and Federici are currently sidelined through long-term hip and knee injuries respectively.
And although the two players are facing a daunting battle to return to full fitness this season, Howe has backed the duo to earn a place in the Australian national team squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia.
He told the Daily Echo: "Both boys are still recovering from their injuries. Adam is making good progress and I don't think he is too far from joining in training with us.
"Brad is further back. We haven't seen him out on the grass yet, so he has quite a long journey ahead of him. He has several hurdles to overcome.
"Certainly around the Christmas period, we will hopefully get him back involved and then he has a period of time to try to prove his worth for the World Cup.
"The World Cup is the pinnacle for a player, so the chance to represent your country at that tournament will be something they will fight tooth and nail for – to try to make those squads and lead their country to success.
"Players don't really need any extra motivation these days. The motivation is there for them every day and both players are great characters and motivated to be their best anyway. But they do have that carrot at the end and a World Cup is very special."