Leicester's Harry Ellis - another man with Lions aspirations - is expected to be named on the bench.
Dawson - who was a key performer with the Lions in 1997, and also toured in
2001 - was demoted earlier this season by Andy Robinson after he was unable to commit himself to an England training session because of his filming schedule on the BBC's Question of Sport.
But a string of exceptional performances for Wasps have forced Robinson to reconsider his position, and with Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward eager to only pick players currently playing Test rugby, Dawson could suddenly find himself back in the reckoning.
England know the importance of getting their Six Nations season off to a winning start in Wales, especially as their next two games are against reigning champions France, followed by many people's title tip Ireland in Dublin.
Wales have not beaten England in Cardiff since 1993, but their impressive displays during the autumn series - especially against New Zealand and South Africa - appears to give them a strong victory chance.
"It is going to be a great game, a very close one to call, and the side that can convert pressure into points is going to win it," said England coach Andy Robinson.
"In the end, you are going to be judged on who wins the games, not how the performance goes.
"The key thing for us is about new leaders coming through in the team and taking the responsibility," added Robinson, who is preparing for his first Six Nations game at the helm after replacing World Cup mastermind Woodward last autumn