He was named among the replacements and clarification was issued about who would be in charge should the flanker leave the bench.
Ryan Jones will lead Wales, as he did in Paris in the last round when they ended a run of eight successive defeats, and he will wear the captain's armband as long as he is on the field. If he and Warburton exchange places, a decision on the captaincy will be taken at the time.
Warburton missed the victory over France because of a shoulder injury and he forms part of an experienced bench which will also be occupied by the second-row Alun Wyn Jones, who has not played for Wales since November, James Hook and Paul James. The eight replacements have 264 caps between them.
"Sam is fully fit and has taken an active part in training this week," said the Wales interim head coach, Robert Howley. "It is good to have so much experience on the bench because international rugby is about all 23 players involved. Ryan is the captain against Italy but Sam will go on to play many more games for Wales and lead the side. He is the ultimate professional, very grounded, and he understands why we have gone with the team that started in Paris.
"Sam has been outstanding in training and is looking forward to making a difference when he goes on to the field. We know how difficult it is going to be: Italy are well organised and well coached, difficult to break down, but it is a good challenge for us on the back of France. One win is not enough and we need to beat Italy."
Ryan Jones was sitting alongside Howley and appreciated what Warburton was going through, having been relieved of the captaincy at the end of 2010. It could have closed the book on his international career but his attitude was such was that it merely marked the start of a new chapter.
"The captaincy is just a title," he said. "I am just happy to be involved and to contribute to the team. Sam is a mate of mine and I have always tried to be there for him since he took over the captaincy [in 2011]. We chat over various things but he is very much his own man.
"You have to be true and honest to yourself; if you are not, rugby is so ruthless that you quickly get found out. It is still Sam's team, if you like, and we want him to be confident and playing well. Age does not matter when it comes to leadership, which is about making the right decisions at the right time."
England's strong start to the Six Nations seems to have relegated Wales' status as champions to the margins. But with the men in white visiting the Millennium Stadium in the final round, last season's grand slam winners have not abandoned their goal of retaining the championship for the first time since the 1970s.
"It is a realistic target," said the wing Alex Cuthbert. "bBut what is important for us is not to look beyond Italy. We have to back up the victory over France and give us momentum going into the final two rounds. We have big players like Sam and Alun Wyn coming back and it is now about adding to our game, getting Italy to make as many tackles as we can."
Howley intends to use his bench to ensure Wales are the stronger side in the final 20 minutes, his priority is to end his side's tendency to start somnolently. "We were better against France than we had been against Ireland but we still need to improve," he said. "We have to make sure we are not the ones making the mistakes."
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