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Wales trio winning fitness battle

Wales appear on course to select from strength for Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against Ireland.

And that could give coach Warren Gatland exactly what he wants - some tough decisions - before naming his team on Thursday.

Full-back James Hook (shoulder), wing Shane Williams (thigh strain) and flanker Dan Lydiate (ankle) all missed Wales' last two Pool D games against Namibia and Fiji. But they should be back in training on Wednesday, when Wales step up preparations for the Irish clash.

In their absence, though, Lee Byrne and Leigh Halfpenny have deputised solidly in the number 15 shirt, while Halfpenny shone on the wing against Namibia and Fiji and flanker Ryan Jones has delivered two solid displays in the back row alongside Sam Warburton and Toby Faletau.

Hook damaged the joint of his right shoulder just before half-time against Samoa.

"It flared up a bit and has taken a bit of time to get back to normal," he said. "The physios have done some great work on a daily basis. I knew it was a fair old bang that would take a couple of weeks, but I knew there wasn't any structural damage so I wasn't really that worried.

"I just have to do my best in training. It's up to the coaches then as to whether they want to play me. The quarter-final is a target for me. I am hoping I will be fit for it.

"We've put a good string of performances together, and we have a bit of confidence in the squad."

Lydiate added: "We have been under the radar at this World Cup. We are going really well and the boys are in a good place. There is always things to work on, but they seem fresh and really hungry. There is a real competitive edge in training. We've had it since pre-season because no-one wants to give up their place and go home.

"We came off some good results pre-World Cup and we were so gutted to lose against South Africa, but we got the result we wanted against Samoa. It has been a tough group, but it is just one-off games now."


From Belfast Telegraph