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Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Williams in injury blow for Wales

Date: Saturday, 14 February Kick-off: 1730 GMTVenue: Millennium Stadium
Coverage: Live on BBC ONE, full commentary on BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and the BBC Sport website

Shane Williams left the field soon after scoring his 45th Welsh career try
Shane Williams left the field soon after scoring his 45th Welsh career try

Shane Williams is out of Wales' Six Nations clash with England after failing a fitness test on Friday.

The 31-year-old sprained an ankle in the 26-13 win over Scotland on Sunday and has not recovered in time, so Mark Jones will replace him on the wing.

Number eight Andy Powell is fit for Saturday after overcoming a calf strain, as is skipper Ryan Jones who missed last weekend's opening game.

Jones returns at flanker, taking over from Dafydd Jones.

Gavin Henson failed to overcome a calf problem, Jamie Roberts and Tom Shanklin continuing their centre partnership.

Mark Jones will take over on the wing, but he has not played for more than eight weeks after suffering appendicitis.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley denied losing Williams was a blow and said replacement Jones has never let his country down.

"[It's] not a blow,," said Howley. "We coped last week with obviously Ryan Jones [being ruled out]. Mark has never let us down when he's played for Wales, was outstanding against Australia.

Interview: Jamie Roberts

"We gave Shane every opportunity to be fit. That just shows the respect we have in him - he's been a bit of a talisman... for Wales.

"But Mark steps in and we are comfortable with Mark. He's proudly trained throughout the week.

"He's looking forward to that challenge."

On Thursday when asked whether Jones' lack of match time was a concern, a laconic Gatland had replied: "Yup."

"He's an experienced player and he's looked sharp in training," added Gatland.

Scarlets flanker Dafydd Jones drops to the bench, knocking Cardiff Blues lock Bradley Davies down the pecking order.

Wales boss Warren Gatland delayed naming his team by 48 hours to give Williams, Ryan Jones and Henson a chance to recover.

Henson, on the day before the game, and skipper Jones, on the morning of the match, both pulled out of the side that won at Murrayfield.


Wales boss Warren Gatland said: "The [England] fixture is a bit of a reversal from last year.

"It just shows that a lot of things can change in 12 months, but there is also a lesson there in that we were not tipped to win at Twickenham but we did and it sparked our season.

"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."

Wales: Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Leigh Halfpenny, Tom Shanklin, Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues), Mark Jones (Scarlets); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Ospreys); Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Adam Jones, Ian Gough, Alun Wyn Jones, Ryan Jones (Ospreys, captain), Martyn Williams, Andy Powell (Blues).
Replacements: Huw Bennett (Ospreys), John Yapp (Blues), Luke Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), Dafydd Jones (Scarlets), Dwayne Peel (Sale), James Hook, Andrew Bishop (Ospreys).

England: Delon Armitage (London Irish); Paul Sackey (Wasps), Mike Tindall (Gloucester), Riki Flutey (Wasps), Mark Cueto (Sale); Andy Goode (Brive), Harry Ellis (Leicester); Andrew Sheridan (Sale), Lee Mears (Bath), Phil Vickery (Wasps), Steve Borthwick (Saracens, capt), Nick Kennedy (London Irish), James Haskell (Wasps), Joe Worsley (Wasps), Nick Easter (Harlequins).
Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Northampton), Julian White (Leicester), Tom Croft (Leicester), Luke Narraway (Gloucester), Paul Hodgson (London Irish), Toby Flood (Leicester), Mathew Tait (Sale).

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

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