Six Nations: Ashley Beck out, but Ken Owens boosts Wales

Injury has ruled Ospreys centre Ashley Beck out of contention for at least Wales' two opening Six Nations games.

Four-times capped Beck, 22, has an ankle injury, meaning a six- to eight-week lay-off.

Ospreys physiotherapist Chris Towers said: "We... would expect to see him back in action by the end of February."

However, Scarlets hooker Ken Owens, 26 and capped 10 times, returns from rib trouble in the Heineken Cup against Leinster on Saturday.

Beck made his Wales debut on their June 2012 summer tour to Australia.

The timescale leaves Beck with an outside chance of being in contention to face Italy in Rome on Saturday, 23 February.

Injured Wales players

  • Aaron Jarvis - prop
  • Huw Bennett - hooker
  • Alun Wyn Jones - lock
  • Ian Evans - lock
  • Luke Charteris - lock
  • Dan Lydiate - flanker
  • Aaron Shingler - flanker
  • James Hook - fly-half
  • Rhys Priestland - fly-half

He cannot be considered for Wales' tournament opener against Ireland on 2 February in Cardiff, or the trip to Paris to face France a week later.

Beck suffered in the injury after a brief replacement's appearance in the Pro12 against Newport Gwent Dragons on New Year's Eve.

The injury also rules Beck out of the Ospreys' crunch Heineken Cup clash against Leicester on Sunday and the game in Treviso that follows seven days later.

Wales were recently boosted by news that George North's neck injury was not as bad as first feared.

Owens' return is also timely following the injury he suffered in a Heineken Cup defeat by Exeter in December.

Exeter tight-head prop Craig Mitchell's return from the ruptured bicep he suffered against London Welsh in September has also improved Wales' front-row resources.

During their autumn 2012 campaign, Wales ended up without four tight-heads in Adam Jones, Mitchell, Aaron Jarvis and Rhodri Jones.

Jarvis had stepped in to cover for Jones and Mitchell, only to suffer a knee injury that has ruled him out of the Six Nations.

The situation led to Cardiff Blues' Scott Andrews, 23, to face Australia on 1 December with uncapped Scarlet Samson Lee, 20, on the bench.

Centre Jamie Roberts returned from injury for Cardiff Blues in their 17-6 victory at Munster in the Pro12 on Saturday while Leigh Halfpenny recovered from a neck injury to take a place on the bench for the Blues.

However, the defending Six Nations champions still have significant injury worries ahead of the annual tournament.

Fly-half Rhys Priestland is out of the 2013 campaign because of a torn Achilles tendon and is a doubt for the British and Irish Lions tour next summer.

And seven Wales forwards are currently sidelined - prop Jarvis, hooker Huw Bennett, locks Alun Wyn Jones, Ian Evans and Luke Charteris as well as flankers Aaron Shingler and Dan Lydiate.