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Davies hopes to withstand Webb's challenge and keep Wales number nine shirt

Gareth Davies looks set to withstand Rhys Webb's challenge and keep the Wales number nine shirt for a Twickenham showdown against unbeaten RBS 6 Nations title rivals England.

Webb joined up with Wales' Six Nations squad on Monday after making three comeback appearances in Ospreys colours following a World Cup-ending foot injury suffered last September in a final tournament warm-up game against Italy.

The 27-year-old was arguably Wales' stand-out player last season, scoring five tries in eight Tests, including a touchdown against England in Cardiff.

But Scarlets scrum-half Davies took over from Webb with considerable success during the World Cup, claiming five tries during the tournament, and he has continued that form into the Six Nations.

And while Webb would appear to be on course for a place in Wales' matchday 23 at Twickenham next Saturday, a bench spot seems his most likely role.

"We have called Rhys into the squad, and it's nice to have someone of his quality," Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said.

"He brings experience, patience and composure. We watched him against Leinster (for the Ospreys), and he probably needs a little bit more time under his belt, and we will gauge that over the next 24 hours to decide whether we use him or not next weekend.

"But let us not forget the impact Gareth has had. The experience that Rhys brings is something any side will want in selection, but Gareth has been going really well and played particularly well against France.

"He has been fantastic. There is no substitute for speed or the ability to create breaks, and that is what Gareth has done in abundance.

"He has been outstanding for us, and people forget he is still relatively inexperienced at international level.

"I said to Rhys that competition for places is to an extent where it's bringing out the best as players, and it makes people better players, including (Wales squad scrum-halves) Aled Davies and Lloyd Williams.

"It's a selection issue when you are a coach that is nice to have. It is not a headache, and it's important to have that quality in the team."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland, who has masterminded three Twickenham victories over England since he took charge eight years ago, including last September's World Cup pool stage triumph, is due to announce his team on Tuesday.

Changes are likely to be at a minimum following Wales' unbeaten Six Nations start that has realised a draw in Ireland, followed by wins against Scotland and France.

Lock Luke Charteris, who missed the France game because of a knee injury, could return instead of Wasps forward Bradley Davies if fit, although Davies impressed during a 19-10 win against Les Bleus, which was Wales' fifth-successive triumph in the fixture, while replacement prop Gethin Jenkins has been troubled by a calf muscle strain.

Howley added: "Luke is due to train this afternoon (Monday) after not playing on the weekend. His injury is progressing well, and Gethin is going to be integrated into training on Tuesday.

"It is about keeping a watchful eye on both of them, and we will wait and see."

Despite beating France 10 days ago, Wales came in for considerable criticism - much of it on social media and from former players - although England World Cup-winning supremo Sir Clive Woodward, writing in a national newspaper, offered considerable praise for Wales' efforts under Gatland.

"The current crop of players that we have got have the ability to win every international game they go into," Howley said. "That is their self-belief - they have huge desire and attitude.

"It's a shame the energy and desire they bring into the game is sometimes not reflected in terms of taps on the back.

"They have been an outstanding group of players to work with. Unfortunately, sometimes they don't get the praise they deserve.

"The expectation in Wales over the last eight years under Warren Gatland has risen. We have a 73 per cent success record in the Six Nations and are used to winning in a certain way.

"If we wanted to play champagne Barbarians rugby, I am not sure we would have won some of those games, because ultimately it's about putting defences under pressure and playing to your strengths.

"Nobody in this environment works harder than the players and coaches, I can assure you of that. No stone is left unturned to ensure the next performance is better than the last performance."

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