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Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Wales given Six Nations fitness boost

Wales coach Warren Gatland
Gatland will face an anxious January as his star names take to the field

Wales' glut of injuries looks to be slimming down ahead of the Six Nations.

Long-term casualties Matthew Rees and Mike Phillips' recoveries are on target, Rees set to be ready for the opener against England on 6 February.

Fellow British and Irish Lions star Shane Williams is close to a return to action, along with James Hook and Alun Wyn Jones who were injured last month.

Stephen Jones will be fit, but Tom Shanklin has provided a new injury concern ahead of the Twickenham opener.

The Blues centre will have a knee problem he picked up in the defeat at the Ospreys assessed.


Martyn Williams, Jamie Roberts and Leigh Halfpenny missed the Liberty Stadium showdown with injuries, but none are thought to be too serious.

Adam Jones, Ian Evans and Lee Byrne have all recently returned to action for the Ospreys.

Scarlets and Lions fly-half Stephen Jones injured his shoulder in the New Year's Eve win over the Dragons.

But the Scarlets say he will be back to face London Irish in the Heineken Cup on 17 January, as will hooker Rees.

However, flanker Dafydd Jones (shoulder) has been given a recovery time of four to five weeks, which is likely to rule him out of the Twickenham game.

Scarlets wing Mark Jones (knee) has no set date to return and it is now probable he will miss the start of the Six Nations, but Morgan Stoddart (hamstring) is fit enough to take a Scarlets bench place away to Munster on Sunday.

Mike Phillips
We've got two games during the Six Nations this year, Connacht and Edinburgh - it's possibly one of them that we'll target [for Mike Phillips' return]

Ospreys coach Sean Holley

Props Rhys Thomas (foot) - facing another three weeks rehab - Craig Mitchell (rib) and Duncan Jones (foot) are doubts, while John Yapp (bicep) is definitely out.

The Dragons' back-rower Joe Bearman could have his Wales hopes thwarted by an abductor problem and may even miss the rest of the season, while there is still no sign of Gavin Henson returning to the rugby field.

Wales coach Warren Gatland will still face an anxious January with his players involved in major Heineken Cup and Magners League games.

Scrum-half Phillips, who played every minute of every Lions Test in the summer, could return in one of the Ospreys' league games sandwiched between Six Nations weekends.

"Mike's making good progress, he's out of his boot, it's going in the right direction for him," said Ospreys coach Sean Holley.

"We've got two games during the Six Nations this year, [home to] Connacht [21 February] and [at] Edinburgh [7 March].

"It's possibly one of them that we'll target [for Phillips' return]."

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see also
Wales hooker Rees set to return
06 Jan 10 |  Scarlets
Jones injury is minor - Scarlets
04 Jan 10 |  Welsh
Wales head back to drawing board
30 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Gatland considers creative spark
30 Nov 09 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
Coming up next on Scrum V...
03 Nov 08 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
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