Speaking to the media at Carton House, Ireland team manager Michael Kearney gave an optimistic injury outlook ahead of facing Italy.
While Mike McCarthy (concussion) and Fergus McFadden (rib cartilage) are ruled out of the opening round fixture after injuries picked up against England Saxons, and fly-half Jonathan Sexton remains sidelined due to concussion, there was a positive report regarding a number of players set to return from injury.
“Conor Murray trained well on Friday and will progress to full contact training this week. That has happened (he has seen a specialist),” explained Kearney.
“We had an open training session in the Aviva on Friday and Conor took a full part in that. There were some minor contact in it but he came through it really well and we expect that Conor will be available for selection.
“Jamie Heaslip continued to rehab his shoulder and we are hopeful he will train fully tomorrow. There is some small doubt about him. He has rehabbed really well and Jamie being the professional athlete that he is, he really does look after his body really well and worked on it over the weekend, so the next day or two will tell a lot. It would be a small degree of doubt.”
“Eoin Reddan is making good progress from a knee ligament injury and we are hopeful he will train tomorrow also. Dave Kearney has recovered well and he should train fully today. Luke Fitzgerald had a bout of vomiting on Thursday night but is now fully recovered and will train as normal today.
“Cian Healy is doing a test at the moment and if he comes through that test he will be allowed train fully for the rest of the week. If that happens, given the athlete that he is, I would expect he would be in consideration for the French game. I doubt it (that he would be in consideration for the Italian game).
“Finally, a number of players who hadn’t a lot of game-time came through Friday (Ireland Wolfhounds v England Saxons) really well. Jack McGrath, Mike Ross, Iain Henderson, Sean O’Brien and Keith Earls. They are all fully fit and will train fully this week.”
With Sexton set to see a specialist in Paris this Thursday, it is hoped he will be given the all-clear and be available for the first home game of the campaign. He took a full part in training last week, except for full contact, with the hope of getting back for the St. Valentine’s Day clash with France.
McFadden is also ruled out of next weekend’s Championship opener in Rome, but with the injury not as serious as first thought, he is yet to be ruled out of the French game.
Following McCarthy’s initial concussion test post-match last Friday, he is also expected to come through for the French game.