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Alun Wyn Jones likely to feature for Wales against Ireland

Alun Wyn Jones likely to feature for Wales against Ireland
© Reuters
The Wales skipper has not played since early December.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones appears on course to be available for his team's Guinness Six Nations opener against Ireland.

Jones, who has made a world record 152 Test match appearances for Wales and the British and Irish Lions, has not played since early December.

The 35-year-old Ospreys lock suffered a knee injury during Wales' Autumn Nations Cup finale against Italy.

Wales v Italy – Autumn Nations Cup – Parc y Scarlets
Alun Wyn Jones in action against Autumn Nations Cup opponents Italy (David Davies/PA)

"I have been up and running now for two or three weeks and I have progressed really well," Jones said, ahead of the Ireland appointment on February 7.

"I am back in training."

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac, meanwhile, delivered positive injury bulletins on lock Cory Hill (hamstring), prop Wyn Jones (neck) and scrum-half Tomos Williams (shoulder).

Pivac said: "They are all pretty good. They are all partaking in some shape or form in training.

"Tomos, who probably looked worst with the knock, is probably looking the best. He is in full training now.

England v Wales – Guinness Six Nations – Twickenham Stadium
Wales scrum-half Tomos Williams (David Davies/PA)

"Wyn Jones is back training, Cory Hill is doing rehabilitation on a slight hamstring injury, so they are all looking very good. Nobody new has been called into the squad.

"We have some pretty special people that look after our players in terms of their conditioning.

"Alun Wyn could testify to the amount of work that he's been doing in the last eight weeks. You wouldn't think Alun Wyn has been out for too long at all if you look at him in training.

"Big game players, generally speaking, can step up to the plate. It's about how long they can go for across the 80 minutes. That's the question."

Although Wales will return to Cardiff's Principality Stadium after playing their Autumn Nations Cup games in Llanelli, their fixtures will again be behind closed doors.

"We get the 16th man at the Principality Stadium with our fans, who are fantastic. But you take that away, and it's a different challenge," Pivac said.

"As players, you don't have that extra motivational factor there, but it's something that players and management have had to get to grips with. It is different, there are no two ways about it."

Wales normally prefer to play home games under a Principality Stadium closed roof.

Asked if Covid-19 could prevent that indoor spectacle from happening, Pivac added: "We've had discussions with the stadium around that, and there are plenty of areas within the stadium to open up apart from the roof.

"Also, everybody that is in the red zone in the stadium will have been tested. Obviously, that applies to both groups of players and management.

"We would like to think it's a pretty safe environment – we are talking about a large, expansive area. We would like to think the roof will be closed and that would benefit all players."

Wales won just three of their 10 Tests last year, which was Pivac's first at the helm after succeeding Warren Gatland, while he also oversaw a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Six Nations.

"We got ourselves into some good positions in those games, but we weren't able to capitalise because of a malfunctioning set-piece," he said.

"That's clearly a big drive for us, to improve in that area, as well as across the board, to be honest."

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Liam Williams during a Wales training session on January 31, 2019
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