Neil Jenkins believes Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel will be “absolutely gutted” if he is ruled out of Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations clash against Italy.
Peel looks set to miss out after suffering a hamstring injury while on duty for his club, Sale Sharks, two days ago.
Confirmation of Peel’s knockout blow could come later today, with Mike Phillips set to retain the number nine jersey he wore in France 11 days ago.
Peel for Phillips was among 10 changes made by Wales head coach Warren Gatland ahead of the trip to Rome.
But Peel, who has started just one Six Nations game since Gatland took charge ahead of the 2008 Six Nations campaign, could now face a spell on the sidelines.
“Dwayne is going to be absolutely gutted if he does miss out,” said Wales kicking coach Jenkins.
“This is a chance for him back in the team, starting, and it will be extremely bad luck if he is ruled out.”
As for the unfortunate timing of Peel’s injury, Jenkins added: “He has a contract and he is obliged to go back to play for Sale between Test matches.
“The injury has come at a bad time for him and for us.”
If Peel falls by the wayside, there could be an unexpected bench role for London Irish fringe player Warren Fury, the 23-year-old who was capped twice during Wales’ South Africa tour last summer.
Fury, who is effectively fourth choice scrum-half at Irish, has not featured for his club since their European Challenge Cup victory over Italian minnows Rovigo on January 24.
To compound matters for Gatland, two other scrum-half options – Gareth Cooper and Martin Roberts – are both injury doubts.
Gloucester star Cooper, Gatland’s first choice during the autumn Tests, has recovered from the knee surgery he underwent last month but continues to be troubled by a groin problem.
Roberts, meanwhile, suffered a rib cartilage injury during the Scarlets’ Magners League victory over Edinburgh on Sunday and is also being assessed.
Wales team physiotherapist Mark Davies added: “The news (about Peel) thus far is not great. We will make a further assessment, having had the results of a scan.”
If Fury is drafted on to the bench – he linked up with the squad yesterday - then Jenkins claimed there would be “no issues” about him providing scrum-half cover.
“Warren was excellent for us last summer in South Africa, backing up Gareth Cooper,” said Jenkins.
“He is a very good player and we will have no issues if it does come down to Warren becoming involved.”
The scrum-half issue apart, Wales have otherwise reported a clean bill of health prior to tackling Italy.
Victory in Rome would keep them on course for a successful Six Nations title defence, with Grand Slam-chasing Ireland due in Cardiff on Saturday week.