Sexton and Gilroy available to face Italy
Outhalf will resume full training tomorrow, but team announcement put back 48 hours
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton will train fully from tomorrow. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Jonathan Sexton and Craig Gilroy are expected be available to play for Ireland against Italy on Saturday, after being passed fit at Carton House this morning.
Leinster outhalf Sexton has been nursing a hamstring injury since leaving the field early against England last month, but he has recovered from the grade two injury that kept him out of the defeat to Scotland and Saturday's 13-13 draw with France at the Aviva Stadium.
He will resume full training tomorrow and will play in Rome, assuming there is no recurrence between now and the weekend.
A groin injury prevented Gilroy from taking to the field against France. With Fergus McFadden ruled out of the Italy game with fractured ribs, the Ulsterman's availability is a boost for coach Declan Kidney.
Concern remains over centres Brian O'Driscoll and Luke Marshall, who both left the pitch prematurely against France.
O'Driscoll had an ear wound stitched and suffered a dead leg against France, but it is the concussion he suffered that threatens his involvement in what could potentially be his final Six Nations match.
Marshall, on his home debut, was also concussed after putting in a crunching tackle before Ireland succumbed to late French pressure on Saturday.
Their wellbeing, coupled with that of Donnacha Ryan, means Ireland will now name their team for the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday. Ryanreceived another blow to the shoulder AC joint that was threatening to keep him out of the weekend game.
“I asked Brian why he wanted to tackle Vincent Debaty twice - I thought he had more smarts than that,” assistant coach Les Kiss said. “He’s a warrior who puts his body on the line week in, week out. We know that. It’s amazing what he pulls from his reserves.
“I imagine he’ll do everything to be available for Italy. He’s talking as though he’ll be there.”
Uncapped Ulster scrumhalf Paul Marshall has been called up as cover for Eoin Reddan, who broke his ankle late in the game and will undergo surgery today, ahead of a 12-16 week recovery.
“The injury run has been absolutely extraordinary and reminded me of that quote, ‘grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented’,” team manager mick Kearney added. “There isn’t an underlying issue. The majority of injuries are soft tissue, which can happen. We’ve just been unlucky.
“There’s no trend and you can’t look at it and say we’re doing something wrong.”
Paul O'Connell, meanwhile, will return to action with Munster A tomorrow after being named in the starting XV to face Leinster at the Bowl in UL (2pm).
The lock has been sidelined since October with a back injury, and his return will come earlier than anticipated. Niall Ronan, who has been out action since November, also returns, along with wing Luke O'Dea and Seán Scanlon, who is named on the bench.
Munster A : Johne Murphy; Luke O'Dea, Danny Barnes, Ivan Dineen, Ronan O'Mahony; JJ Hanrahan, Cathal Sheridan; James Cronin, Sean Henry, John Ryan; Dave Foley, Paul O'Connell; Niall Ronan, Sean Dougall, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Marcus Horan, Duncan Casey, Niall Scannell, Kevin Griffin, Brian Hayes, Dave O'Callaghan, Brian Slater, Scott Deasy, Cian Bohane, Corey Hircock, Sean Scanlon, Johnny Holland.