London - Wales captain Sam Warburton is on course to return to fitness for the crucial Six Nations clash against Ireland later this month.
Warburton sustained a knee injury in a 20-13 victory against France on Saturday which put Wales back in contention for the Six Nations title.
The 26-year-old had ice applied to the knee after leaving the field at the Stade de France and it had been feared that he would miss the visit of Grand Slam contenders Ireland to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on March 14.
But the Wales management team have said Warburton will return to training later this week and the openside flanker's deputy Justin Tipuric has been released from the squad to play for his region the Ospreys this weekend.
"Sam suffered a contusion to his knee," said a Wales team statement on Monday evening.
"He will continue to be monitored by the medical team and will return to training later this week."
Outside-half Dan Biggar, who scored Wales' decisive try against France, will also return to training later this week after suffering a hip injury in Paris.
But Bath loosehead prop Paul James, a late second-half replacement for Gethin Jenkins in Paris, has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a fractured thumb and will miss the next four to six weeks.
Wales announced earlier that they had released 12 players back to the regions this weekend, among them Tipuric and British and Irish Lions winger Alex Cuthbert, who was dropped for the Paris victory in favour of Liam Williams.