Irish welcome back cavalry for France

Date published: February 9 2015

Ireland have received a major fitness boost with the news that a number of key players should be fit to France on Saturday.

The defending Six Nations champions kicked off the competition with a comfortable 26-3 win over Italy but were without several regulars including fly-half Jonny Sexton and number eight Jamie Heaslip.

Leinster back row Sean O'Brien also had to pull out at the last minute because of a hamstring injury. He is expected to be back in training tomorrow and stands a good chance of returning to face les Bleus.

Rory Best, who has undergone return to play protocols after a suspected concussion, is also expected to be fit, while Cian Healy is also set to make his return.

Sexton, who has been out of action since November because of a series of concussions, was given the all-clear at the end of last week to start playing again.

"Sean (O'Brien) did an MRI scan last night which confirmed a hamstring strain on the minor end of the scale," said team manager Michael Kearney.

"He is feeling good and we are hopeful that he will train with the squad tomorrow.

"If he comes through that, he will be available for selection. Whether that will happen or not, we will have to wait and see.

"Cian Healy trained fully last week, including some scrummaging which he came through very well and he is available for selection.

"Jonny Sexton is cleared to train fully and again he is available for selection."