Rugby-Gatland plays down chances of captain Jones returning to Lions squad

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By Mark Gleeson 

  JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A return to the British & Irish Lions touring team for injured captain Alun Wyn Jones, injured on the eve of the departure to South Africa, looked less likely on Monday as coach Warren Gatland seemed to pour cold water on the idea. 

  The veteran Welsh lock dislocated his shoulder early in the warm-up test against Japan at Murrayfield before the squad left for Johannesburg and was withdrawn, with the captaincy taken over by Conor Murray. 

  Once in South Africa, however, Gatland said Jones’s injury was not as bad as originally thought and suggested there was a possibility of a return to squad for the 35-year-old. 

  "I don't know - not from me at the moment," Gatland responded to a question at a news conference about any contact with Jones. "I think the medics have been talking to him. 

  "He’s on a programme. It may be unlikely but he’s the sort of person that will do everything he can to get himself back to full fitness. 

  "The prognosis wasn’t quite as bad as they first thought. Look, it’s a dislocated shoulder and it takes a lot of work to get something like that back. 

  "We wouldn't even consider him unless he was 100% fit and was able to take full contact. That’s not something we’re focusing on at the moment. It’s to the side and our whole focus is on the squad that’s out here at the moment and preparing for these matches," Gatland said. 

  Jones has been on three previous Lions tours, starting with the last one in South Africa 12 years ago. 

  (Editing by Ed Osmond) 

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