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Page last updated at 20:49 GMT, Sunday, 23 January 2011

Martyn Williams omitted from Wales Six Nations squad

Martyn Williams
Williams ended his Wales career in 2007 but Gatland persuaded him to return

Martyn Williams is the shock omission from Wales' 28-man squad for the 2011 Six Nations Championship.

The 35-year-old British & Irish Lions flanker has been dropped two caps shy of his 100th appearance.

Props Ryan Bevington and Scott Andrews, two of five uncapped players in the squad, have been brought in for the injured Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins.

Scrum-half Dwayne Peel is in for the banned Richie Rees, and Dan Biggar is omitted for uncapped Rhys Priestland.

Priestland's Scarlets team-mate Josh Turnbull and Dragons number eight Toby Faletau are the other two uncapped players in a slimmed-down squad.

"We have deliberately kept the squad as small as possible and have reverted largely to the philosophy we had during the Grand Slam year in 2008," said coach Warren Gatland.

"We want to keep intensity levels up in training and have ensured that we are not carrying players with injury. Everyone here is fighting fit and able to take a full part and challenge each other for selection.

Gatland considers World Cup selection

"It's a boost to have one or two players back from injury in the backline, with Shane [Williams] and Lee [Byrne] both doubts at one stage and Leigh [Halfpenny] and Jamie [Roberts] returning after being unavailable to us in the autumn, there's an exciting look about the backs.

"Up front, it's well documented that we have lost a couple of players in the front row, but that gives opportunities to others to put their hands up, and we are pleased with the options we have got in the pack.

"The forwards have been going pretty well and we have decided to give a couple of youngsters a chance, but that doesn't mean there is no way back for those who have missed out.

"We are conscious that we need to begin to realise our potential and that means winning some games.

"It all starts against England at the Millennium Stadium [on Friday, 4 February] and they don't come much bigger than that."

Priestland is the only uncapped player in the backs and he is joined by three-times capped Scarlets wing or full-back Morgan Stoddart, making his first squad appearance since facing Canada in 2008.

The size of the squad and fit-again players means there is no room for Dragons wings Aled Brew or Will Harries, Blues wings Tom James or Chris Czekaj or Biggar.

From the 35-man squad selected for the autumn internationals, Ospreys wing Tom Prydie also misses out, with Scarlets flier George North another absent through injury.

Williams, who was persuaded to come out of international retirement by Gatland in 2008, might have become surplus to requirements but the coach has picked a strong back-row contingent of Dan Lydiate (Dragons), Sam Warburton (Blues), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Faletau and Powell.

It all starts against England at the Millennium Stadium and they don't come much bigger than that

Warren Gatland

But Ryan Jones has been picked as a lock along with Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) and Bradley Davies (Blues), though there is no place for Ospreys Ian Gough.

In the front row, Paul James of Ospreys is also retained alongside regional colleagues Craig Mitchell and Bevington and Blues prop John Yapp.

The two hookers in the reduced squad are Matthew Rees, retained as captain, and Ospreys Richard Hibbard, with Hibbard's regional colleague Huw Bennett losing out.

Mike Phillips (Ospreys) and Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets) are retained alongside Peel to make up the contingent of three scrum-halves.

Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones keeps his spot and Ospreys James Hook - normally a centre but also considered as a fly-half and full-back - joins Roberts and Jonathan Davies who make their returns at centre with Tom Shanklin (Blues) and Andrew Bishop (Ospreys) both ruled out through injury.

Wales squad:

Forwards: Paul James (Ospreys), John Yapp (Blues), Craig Mitchell (Ospreys), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Scott Andrews (Blues), Matthew Rees (Scarlets, capt), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Blues), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Andy Powell (Wasps), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Toby Faletau (Dragons), Dan Lydiate (Dragons).

Backs: Mike Phillips (Ospreys), Dwayne Peel (Sharks), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), James Hook (Ospreys), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Shane Williams (Ospreys), Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets), Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), Lee Byrne (Ospreys).

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see also
Gatland concedes Wales sack fear
23 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Wales consider Williams selection
21 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Gatland eyes stand-ins for Jones
21 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Gatland sees Euro flop benefits
20 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Wales suffer Shanklin injury blow
18 Jan 11 |  Cardiff Blues
Henson suffers Six Nations blow
17 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Bishop blow for Ospreys & Wales
14 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Blues turn down Rees ban appeal
13 Jan 11 |  Cardiff Blues
Wales suffer Jenkins injury blow
10 Jan 11 |  Welsh
North blow for Wales and Scarlets
07 Dec 10 |  Welsh

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