Wales deny any controversy over Dwayne Peel's omission
Dwayne Peel limps off during the Sale Sharks match against Cardiff Blues
Wales assistant coach Rob Howley says scrum-half Dwayne Peel's omission from their initial 35-man RBS Six Nations squad is purely down to injury.
There had been speculation head coach Warren Gatland was considering leaving out the Sale man even before his groin injury against the Blues on 16 January.
But Howley insists Peel will figure in the squad when he recovers.
"As soon as Dwayne is fit and performs he will be back in the squad," Howley confirmed to BBC Sport Wales.
"We spoke to Dwayne regarding the reason why him and [Ospreys scrum-half] Mike Phillips weren't selected. They are both injured."
It means Wales picked Blues scrum-halves Gareth Cooper and Richie Rees, plus Martin Roberts of the Scarlets.
The trio will now fight it out for the starting number nine berth for the opening Six Nations clash against England at Twickenham on 6 February.
It's best if they get their rehab right and when they are fit they will be called up
"With two weeks' preparation we need able bodies and fit bodies [and] I think that with the new scrum-half in Richard Rees in the squad, what we don't want is injured players on the sideline,'' said Howley, capped 59 times as a Wales scrum-half.
"We want to give the best opportunity to the number nines who are here to be at their best.
"It's best if they [Peel and Phillips] get their rehab right and when they are fit they will be called up.
"That was the message that was passed on to Dwayne. Obviously when he came off against the Blues we were disappointed like everyone else to see Dwayne limp off."
Wales 'focussed' on England test
But Kingsley Jones, Peel's coaching director at Sale Sharks, suggested in a Sunday newspaper that fitness was not the only issue behind the player's omission.
It is not the first time Peel has been in the limelight, with doubt surrounding his future at Sale Sharks. His contract is up at the end of the season with a suggestion he might return to Wales.
Despite being without two British and Irish Lions scrum-halves in Peel and Phillips, Howley insists it is a golden opportunity for someone else ahead of the England clash.
"I think that we have got a great squad ethic. I think the old adage 'when one door closes another one opens' [fits] and for the nine, whether it is Gareth, Martin or Richard, the next two weeks' prep is going to be really important.
"We are going to see those players under our conditions, in our environment, and to give them the best opportunity to be at their best the decision was to leave Dwayne and Mike out of the squad.
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