Skipper returns for Wales

Wales skipper Ryan Jones returns to his country's starting XV for Saturday's Six Nations clash with England in Cardiff. [more]

Skipper returns for Wales

Wales skipper Ryan Jones returns to his country’s starting XV for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with England in Cardiff.

The star of the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand has recovered from a calf injury that saw him withdraw from last weekend’s win over Scotland at Murrayfield just hours before kick off.

Llanelli Scarlets flanker Daffyd Jones is the man to make way for the Ospreys captain, although he is named on the bench ahead of Blues lock Bradley Davies who made his international debut five days ago.

Jones is the only alteration from the Welsh side that began the convincing 26-13 win over Frank Hadden’s Scots, although Shane Williams is a major injury concern despite being named in the starting XV.

Both Williams and fellow Lions contender Andy Powell, who has been in superb form since making his international bow against South Africa in November, will undergo fitness tests on Friday.

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2005 Lion and IRB World Player of the Year Williams strained his ankle last weekend and has just a ‘50-50’ chance of featuring according to Wales coach Warren Gatland, while Powell pulled up with a calf strain during Thursday’s training session.

If Williams is forced out of the Millennium Stadium encounter, Mark Jones will take over on the wing despite not being named in the original matchday 22.

If Powell fails to prove his fitness, Daffyd Jones will come in at blindside with namesake Ryan moving to No8.

Gatland remains positive about Powell’s chances of facing the English however, but he was quick to point out that whatever team takes the field on Saturday will face a stiff examination from Martin Johnson’s men.

"Andy’s looking pretty good – it’s precautionary. We’re 90% confident that Andy will be fit for Saturday," said Gatland.

"We will need to play better all around the park than we did last week if we are to beat England.

"They are a side with a vast amount of experience and they will respond well to having their backs to the wall.

"We have reached fourth place in the IRB World Rankings and our challenge now is to stay there and maintain consistency of performance."

Having missed his country’s Six Nations opener, Gavin Henson wasn’t considered for the match against England after failing to recover from a calf problem.

Wales

Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Leigh Halfpenny, Tom Shanklin, Jamie Roberts (all Cardiff Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Ospreys); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Adam Jones, Ian Gough, Alun-Wyn Jones (all Ospreys), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, captain), Martyn Williams, Andy Powell (both Cardiff Blues)

Replacements: Huw Bennett (Ospreys), John Yapp (Cardiff Blues), Luke Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), Dafydd Jones (Scarlets), Dwayne Peel (Sale Sharks), James Hook, Andrew Bishop (both Ospreys)

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