Wales full-back Liam Williams is set to miss the Six Nations matches against Ireland and France as he continues to be troubled by an ankle injury.
The British and Irish Lion full-back has been out of action since he was injured in training before the Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa last October.
Leigh Halfpenny donned the number 15 shirt in the absence of Williams in a 42-0 thrashing of Italy at the Principality Stadium last weekend and could get the nod again for a huge clash with Ireland in Dublin.
Wales will be hoping Williams is fit to return when they face World Cup runners-up England at Twickenham on March 7.
“He’s struggling a bit at the moment,” Wales defence coach Byron Hayward said of Williams.
“It’s probably a bit too early for Liam. We’re looking at the fourth and fifth game in the Championship for when he’ll be available.
“Certainly not [as soon as the defending champions hoped], but the boys went well last weekend, Leigh had a great game at full-back, though it would be nice to get Liam back, obviously.”
Hayward did not rule out Williams getting some game time with Saracens before making an international comeback, saying in a news conference: “That will be governed by the medical team in terms of where he’s at and how he progresses in the next couple of weeks. It’s a possibility, certainly.”
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