Luke Fitzgerald latest doubt with recurring troublesome lower abdominal strain

Eoin Reddan given until tomorrow to see if he can overcome calf strain

Conor Murray and the Ireland international squad during a training sesssion at Carton House, Co Kildare, yesterday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Conor Murray and the Ireland international squad during a training sesssion at Carton House, Co Kildare, yesterday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 01:00

Luke Fitzgerald has emerged as a major doubt, along with Eoin Reddan, for Ireland’s opening Six Nations game at home to Scotland on

Sunday due to a troublesome lower abdominal strain which he has been nursing in recent weeks.

Mike McCarthy is also unlikely to feature after requiring a reputed 25 stitches following his stamping by the since suspended Ian Evans last Friday week.

Reddan has been given until Friday in the unlikely event that he will overcome the calf strain he picked up in training on Tuesday, but it has since emerged that Fitzgerald is even more doubtful due to a recurring problem which he had been overcoming impressively with Leinster and which has required careful management in the Irish camp over the last week and a half.

Both team manager Mick Kearney and defence coach Les Kiss yesterday rated Reddan a “very doubtful” inclusion in the match-day squad to be announced tomorrow, and Isaac Boss has been called into the squad after his man-of-the-match performance in the Wolfhounds’ win over the Saxons last Saturday.

Reddan had been in excellent form for Leinster in recent months, notably in their wins away to Northampton and Castres, with his speed to the breakdown, crisp service and high proportion of snipes converted into telling breaks.

Something different
He would have given Ireland something different, and may even have been pushing Conor Murray for a starting place as against Australia in November, despite the latter’s excellent performance against the All Blacks a week later. That said, Boss’ own good form and experience is a consolation, and he is likely to resume his place on the bench against New Zealand.

Fitzgerald was also a replacement that day, and had also been in fine form for Leinster. All the old confidence, footwork and ability to break a line had returned to his game and given the injuries to Tommy Bowe and Keith Earls, Fitzgerald had looked likely to start against Scotland.

However, as with Earls, the injury jinx has struck with cruel timing again. Fergus McFadden, who grew stronger and more effective as the Wolfhounds game wore on upon his return, would seem favourite to start on one wing, with Dave Kearney on the other, given he played against Samoa and Australia. By contrast, Andrew Trimble and Felix Jones did not.

Akin to Reddan, it is conceivable that Fitzgerald could re-enter the equation for the Welsh game on Saturday week, and likewise Bowe, Gilroy and Zebo for the third game against England.

“It might be unlikely that Eoin is going to be there but we will give him a chance,” said Kiss from the squad’s base at Carton House yesterday. “Bossy has been here with us the last couple of weeks but he had a sensational game against the Saxons so he is ready to step into the breach.”