World Cup 2015: Liam Williams poised to face Uruguay for Wales

Liam Williams goes over against Scotland in 2014
Liam Williams made his Wales debut against Barbarians in 2012
Rugby World Cup
Hosts: England and Wales Dates: 18 September-31 October
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and sports extra, BBC Radio Wales and in Welsh on BBC Radio Cymru, plus live text commentary on every match on the BBC Sport website.

Liam Williams is set to start Wales' World Cup opener against Uruguay, with full-back Leigh Halfpenny out injured.

Williams has not played since having foot surgery in June, but coach Warren Gatland has no concerns over the 24-year-old's fitness levels.

Gatland, though, did say the Scarlets back has been in pain during training.

"We want him to start against Uruguay because he's going to need some rugby," said Gatland, whose side face the South Americans in Cardiff on 20 September.

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"He's been running with us. He's had a bit of pain but it's nothing to do with the injury.

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Rewind: Williams inspires Wales win against Scotland in 2014

"We fitness-tested him at the end of last week and his results were as good as some of the top players in the squad.

"He's naturally going to be fit given his body frame, but he might not play for 80 minutes because we have to think about the England game the following week."

Halfpenny, 26, was ruled out after he ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligaments during Wales' 23-19 win over Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Storming scrum-half Davies?

Gareth Davies takes on Italy
Davies has a proven try-scoring pedigree in the Pro12 with Scarlets

Wales have also lost first-choice scrum-half Rhys Webb to a foot injury with Mike Phillips, capped 94 times, drafted in as his replacement.

Gareth Davies looks set to start the Pool A opener and Gatland believes the tournament will give the Scarlets scrum-half a perfect platform to showcase his ability.

The 25-year-old was the top try-scorer in the 2013-14 Pro12 season but, having made his Wales debut in South Africa in 2014, a knee injury ruled him out of the autumn Tests.

"It's potentially an opportunity for Gareth Davies, who is in great shape at the moment, and I think he has got an opportunity to take this tournament by storm," said Gatland.

Ospreys wing Eli Walker, who made his debut in the first warm-up match against Ireland in August, has taken Halfpenny's place in the squad.

In defence of picking Halfpenny

Leigh Halfpenny
Halfpenny won the 2015 European Champions Cup with Toulon

Pundits JJ Williams and Robert Jones disagree over whether Halfpenny should have faced Italy.

Williams feels the full-back should not have been risked, but Jones is adamant Gatland was right to select him.

Gatland said the injury was "just an unfortunate accident" and "nothing to do" with the strapping he had on his right leg during the game.

"It was just to protect him from something in the back of his knee which was for his kicking that he'd been wearing for three weeks," he said.

"And when I spoke to the physio he said Leigh didn't need the strapping, but for confidence he'd been using it."

Sympathy for his players against Italy

Row Howley
Rob Howley was one of Gwyn Jones' successors as Wales captain

As the fallout continued after the disappointing warm-up win over Italy, Gatland highlighted a conversation he had with assistant coach Rob Howley after Saturday's match.

Howley played for Cardiff against Swansea in the 1997 match in which then-Wales captain and flanker Gwyn Jones suffered a serious neck injury.

With Webb and Halfpenny carried off against Italy with serious-looking injuries, Gatland said he could appreciate a lack of appetite among the players to continue with the game.

Gatland said: "When they see two of their team-mates carried off on stretchers and they know that the news is probably pretty horrific, I've got a bit of sympathy for them thinking 'let's get this game over and done with and get off the field'."

Take heart from South Africa in 2014

Wales players dejected at the end of the game
Wales were distraught after losing 31-30 to South Africa on 21 June 2014

Gatland says Wales can take heart from a 2014 Test in South Africa, which they almost won without Halfpenny and Webb.

Phillips and Williams both played, with the latter apologising after the game for conceding a crucial penalty try.

"We've got to have confidence in the squad and I look back at a Test match we probably lost twice in one game - the second Test in South Africa, last summer," said Gatland.

"I've got to start thinking about being positive and the players we've got in the squad that can do a job for us.

"If we start thinking about feeling sorry for ourselves after picking up two injuries then it's going to affect the squad and our preparation."

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