Lions 2013: Sam Warburton tipped to be Warren Gatland's captain

Wales flanker Sam Warburton

Wales flanker Sam Warburton is expected to be named as British and Irish Lions captain when Warren Gatland reveals his squad for the tour of Australia at around 11:00 BST on Tuesday.

The head coach is reluctant to pick any players from French clubs, so Jonny Wilkinson is unlikely to make the cut.

England skipper Chris Robshaw could also miss out on the three-Test series.

"I think Warburton would be Warren's favourite," said four-time Lions boss Sir Ian McGeechan.

Gatland, who is taking a sabbatical as Wales coach in order to lead the Lions to Australia, appointed Warburton, then aged 22, as Wales captain ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

Sam Warburton shakes the hand of Warren Gatland during the 2011 World Cup
Warburton (left) and Gatland have enjoyed plenty of success during their time with Wales

The flanker suffered an injury early in his country's 2013 title-winning Six Nations campaign and did not resume the captaincy when he returned to the starting XV.

But McGeechan believes a Gatland-Warburton axis is "the obvious combination".

"It all comes down to the coach-captain relationship," the Scot explained. You do have to have that relationship because you need to be honest and get really good feedback, and you need trust both ways, with what you are thinking about and how you are developing things.

"You need someone you feel you know well."

Former England fly-half Wilkinson was man of the match as Toulon beat Saracens to reach the Heineken Cup final on Sunday, reigniting the debate about the 33-year-old's Lions chances.

But the tourists' first game is against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on 1 June - the same day as the French Top 14 final, in which Toulon are tipped to feature.

Gatland, who has "the most demanding job in Test rugby" according to former Lions, Wales and New Zealand coach Graham Henry, is keen to have all his players involved for the whole tour, including the pre-departure build-up.

Six Nations champions Wales are predicted to provide the biggest contingent, potentially supplying half of what is expected to be a 38-man squad for the trip, which culminates in three Tests against Australia, starting on 22 June.

While Warburton looks to have seen off the captaincy challenges of Irish pair Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll, current England skipper Robshaw could miss out completely, given the considerable strength in depth among back row contenders.

England second row Joe Launchbury also looks destined to miss the cut, while other difficult calls will have been made in the final selection meeting on Monday.

Areas for discussion included the identities of the remaining two props to accompany Cian Healy, Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones and Dan Cole, Scotland lock Richie Gray's fitness and a third fly-half/midfield option behind Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell.

Jonny Wilkinson kicks for touch during Toulon's win over Saracens
Wilkinson was man of the match on Sunday but is expected to miss out the trip to Australia

Billy Twelvetrees, Ian Madigan, James Hook and Greig Laidlaw are all thought to be in that latter mix, while it is understood Saracens props Mako Vunipola and Matt Stevens have warranted close scrutiny for front-row selection.

Gray, meanwhile, is battling to overcome a hamstring injury but if guarantees over his fitness can be given then it is thought he will be on the plane.

Welshmen Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, George North, Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau are all expected to join Warburton in the squad.

Ireland are tipped to have double-figure representation, with O'Driscoll set to feature in his fourth Lions tour having made his debut on the 2001 trip to Australia.

But England appear unlikely to improve on their nine-strong selection in South Africa four years ago and Scotland could end up with only four players.

After the game in Hong Kong, the Lions fly to Australia for a series of warm-up matches against state sides before the Test series against the Wallabies, which takes place on three consecutive Saturdays.

The Lions' last tour of Australia in 2001 ended in a 2-1 series defeat but overall they have won 75% of their games against the Wallabies, with 15 victories in 20 Tests.

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