Wales can cope with injuries says Gatland

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The Independent Online

Wales will be without two British and Irish Lions scrum-halves for their opening autumn Test against New Zealand on 7 November.

An ankle injury has sidelined Mike Phillips for the entire four-game programme, and Wales coach Warren Gatland is also minus the services of Dwayne Peel.



Gatland has named Sale Sharks number nine Peel in his autumn squad, but either Gareth Cooper or Martin Roberts will start against New Zealand.



Peel, the only Guinness Premiership-based player among a 29-man group, will not make the All Blacks game due to release regulations.



But he is available for the remaining autumn programme that features Millennium Stadium appointments with Samoa, Argentina and Australia.



Gatland said: "It is ironic that we will have Dwayne to train with us for three days in Test week, but that he will have to go back to Manchester on matchday.



"But it is something we have long been made aware of, accepted a long time ago and have made allowances for."



Newport Gwent Dragons flanker Dan Lydiate is the solitary uncapped player in Gatland's squad.



Ospreys back-row forward Ryan Jones has retained the captaincy, leading a contingent that includes three players - centre Jonathan Davies, prop Craig Mitchell and flanker Sam Warburton - who made their international debuts during Wales' summer tour of the United States and Canada.



Lions forwards, prop Gethin Jenkins and flanker Martyn Williams, are back in the fray following their recoveries from post-South Africa tour operations.



But Ospreys centre Andrew Bishop and experienced lock Ian Gough are the most notable omissions.



Gatland added: "The selection process has been relatively simple for us.



"Generally, we have gone for the incumbents in their positions at regional level, and selection reflects the good form our Welsh sides have shown already so far this season.



"Dan Lydiate is a good example of someone who has let his form do the talking, and he deserves his chance, as does Sam Warburton, who also impressed the coaches on tour this summer.



"Craig Mitchell keeps his place after making his debut on that tour, and as a recognised tighthead, he is definitely someone we are looking to develop, although both Gethin Jenkins and Paul James are in consideration as props who can play on both sides of the scrum."



The squad features 10 players from the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues, six Scarlets, two Dragons and Peel, with injury absentees including Lions Phillips, Lee Byrne and Adam Jones.



Squad:

Backs - D Biggar, G Cooper, J Davies, T James, L Halfpenny, J Hook, M Jones, S Jones, D Peel, J Roberts, M Roberts, T Shanklin, S Williams.



Forwards - H Bennett, L Charteris, B Davies, P James, G Jenkins, A-W Jones, Duncan Jones, Dafydd Jones, R Jones (capt), D Lydiate, C Mitchell, A Powell, M Rees, J Thomas, S Warburton, M Williams.



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