(Reuters) – Wales hooker Elliot Dee has played a limited role in the build-up to Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Italy due to a rib injury, backs coach Stephen Jones said.

The 25-year-old Dee suffered the problem playing for club side Dragons in their 47-5 European Challenge Cup victory over Russian outfit Enisei-STM on Jan. 17.

Dee did not miss a test last year, helping Wales win a Grand Slam and reach the World Cup semi-finals, but coach Wayne Pivac could be forced to rely only on Ken Owens and Ryan Elias in the early part of this year’s Six Nations campaign.

“Elliot has not taken much part in training at the moment,” Jones told British media. “Fingers crossed he can make a speedy recovery.”

Centre Owen Watkin has resumed full training following a knee injury sustained while representing Ospreys last month.

“This morning, he trained with us so he is doing well and it is great to have someone like Owen in the midfield,” said Jones.

Pivac is set to announce his team on Thursday for the clash at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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