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Wales sweat on Roberts fitness ahead of Italy clash

Wales centre Jamie Roberts is "touch and go" to be ready for the Six Nations clash with Italy a week on Saturday, according to skills coach Neil Jenkins.

Cardiff Blues centre Roberts was forced off at half-time of last weekend's dramatic 19-12 victory over England at Twickenham with a medial ligament injury; his replacement Scott Williams went on to score the clinching try and seal a Triple Crown success.

Roberts (25) returned from a six-week lay-off after an injury to the same knee just in time for the start of Wales' Six Nations campaign, and there are fears that he may not only miss the Italy game, but the potential Grand Slam decider with France a week later.

Jenkins says Roberts is progressing well, and that Matthew Rees is back in training while fellow hooker and calf injury victim Huw Bennett is doubtful to face the Azzurri.

"With Jamie, we are waiting to find out," said Jenkins. "He is probably going to be touch and go for the next couple of weeks before the Italy game, but he is progressing well, so fingers crossed he could well make that game.

contention

Wales also expect James Hook to be ready to face Italy after he was withdrawn from the match-day 22 to face England due to chicken pox, while lock Luke Charteris could yet come into contention to face France as he returns to the Newport Gwent Dragons squad this weekend from a long-term wrist injury.

Victory at Twickenham has set Wales on course for a third Grand Slam in seven years, with the final fixture against France being a possible winner-takes-all encounter.

But Jenkins insists Wales will not be taking their eyes off preparing to face the Italians, who have shown signs of improvement despite defeats to France, England and Ireland.

He said: "We have a very tough game coming up against Italy and we will not be looking past that.

"If we win that it sets up a Grand Slam game against France, but let's take it one game at a time. We want to get this Italy game up and running and hopefully after that we can look ahead to France."

Irish Independent