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Alun Wyn Jones will rejoin the British & Irish Lions squad in South Africa on Thursday after making a remarkable recovery from the dislocated shoulder that had appeared to have ruled him out of the tour.

The Lions captain has proved his fitness in training with Wales, raising hopes he may yet feature in the Test series that starts next week.

Jones sustained the injury against Japan at Murrayfield late last month and was expected to be sidelined for several weeks. Having come through two training sessions on Tuesday, however, he has now been given the all-clear to rejoin the Lions in the Western Cape for the second half of their eight-game visit.

Warren Gatland, the Lions’ coach, is understandably thrilled by Jones’s rapid return and described the news as “a massive boost” to the squad with next week’s first Test fast approaching. “We are delighted to welcome Alun Wyn back,” said Gatland. “It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who knows Alun Wyn that since injuring his shoulder against Japan, he’s done everything he can to get himself back.

“It’s remarkable really when you consider it’s just 18 days since he left us in Edinburgh. He’s been training with the Wales squad at the Vale of Glamorgan since last week and yesterday he had a proper hit out. Following assessment from the medical staff this morning we’re satisfied he’s fit to return.”

The big question now is whether the 35-year-old Jones, now on his fourth Lions tour, will be ready to face the Springboks in a hugely physical Test match on Saturday week. Gatland will have to wait and see how the Wales captain looks in training in South Africa but is cautiously optimistic about the lock forward’s prospects.

“He’s obviously raring to go and from what I’ve seen on video and the feedback we’ve received, he’s certainly not been holding himself back in training. He was really getting stuck in yesterday.It’s a massive boost for the Lions to welcome a player of Alun Wyn’s stature back.”

Since Jones was originally ruled out, Gatland has installed Ireland’s Conor Murray as his stand-in captain and called up another Welsh lock forward, Adam Beard, to the squad. Following their final midweek game against South Africa A, the Lions have only one more scheduled provincial fixture, against the Stormers this Saturday before the tour finishes with three Tests against the world champions on consecutive weekends.