Gerry Thornley’s probable Irish team; Arsenal progress in Europa League

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will name his team to face Italy on Friday at lunchtime. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will name his team to face Italy on Friday at lunchtime. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Seán Cronin, David Kilcoyne, Ultan Dillane and Jordi Murphy are set to come into the Ireland team to face Italy this Sunday in Rome. Gerry Thornley has revealed his probable Irish team for round three of the Six Nations, and the official team will be announced at lunchtime today. In his column this morning, Liam Toland explains that Ireland must develop options to secure World Cup success: “the first part, key injuries, has been addressed through a deeper, battle-hardened squad, but what of the system?” Tonight in the Pro14 Leinster host the Southern Kings with Fergus McFadden back in their XV, Munster welcome Jack O’Donoghue back to their matchday squad for an away day against the Ospreys; while Connacht have gone for a blend of youth and experience for their trip to Glasgow.

Arsenal recovered from their first leg embarrassment to beat Bate Borisov 3-0 last night at the Emirates (3-1 on aggregate) and progress to the last 16 of the Europa League. Mesut Özil played the entire 90 minutes for Unai Emery’s team. Chelsea will join them after a 3-0 (5-1 on aggregate) win over Malmö at Stamford Bridge - Oliver Giroud grabbed his sixth goal in seven matches in the competition. There was no such joy for Celtic however, despite an impressive showing at the Mestalla they lost 1-0 to Valencia and went out 3-0 on aggregate.

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