Sam Warburton: British and Irish Lions captain set to return against Highlanders

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British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton will "probably" be back after an ankle injury to face the Highlanders on Tuesday.

The Wales flanker missed their 12-3 win over Crusaders on Saturday and has played in only tour game, their 13-7 opening win over Provincial Barbarians.

Warburton suffered the injury in that game.

Coach Warren Gatland said: "We'll probably give Sam a run on Tuesday. He needs some game time as well."

Sam Warburton
Flanker Sam Warburton led the Lions in their opening tour match against the Provincial Barbarians

Warburton missed six weeks at the end of the domestic season with a knee injury, while in October 2016 he suffered a fractured cheekbone that put him out for three weeks.

The Cardiff Blues player, 28, has had several serious shoulder injuries during his career and also missed the deciding Lions Test against Australia in 2013 with a torn hamstring.

Captaincy contingency

Forwards coach Graham Rowntree has admitted the Lions have discussed contingency plans for the captaincy, just in case Warburton is not ready to start the first Test against the All Blacks on 24 June.

"There's a few candidates who we spoke about initially when we were talking about captaincy, so there's some other guys we could call upon," said Rowntree.

"Of course we've spoken about that, and the potential of that happening.

"But luckily we've picked some good leaders in this tour squad, good leaders."

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, Ireland skipper Rory Best and Greig Laidlaw, Scotland's captain, are all in the squad, while Wales hooker Ken Owens skippered the Lions in their 22-16 loss to the Blues and all would be candidates if Warburton suffers complications.

Warburton also led the Lions in the successful tour to Australia in 2013.

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