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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Rob Kearney's knee is not a major concern

Rob Kearney
Rob Kearney

Rob Kearney has become the primary injury concern for Ireland with his bruised knee.

The 29 year-old will be engaged in what an IRFU statement described as "moderated training in the first part of this week".

As injuries go, this isn't exactly one to give Joe Schmidt sleepless nights.

However, the security Kearney provides at the back can be taken for granted at times.

Simon Zebo's failure to deal with the athleticism of Anthony Watson in the air in what was a very difficult situation born out of George Ford's pinpoint kick was a reminder of Kearney's mastery of the basics of the position.

There is negligible worry over the condition of out-half Jonathan Sexton and back-three option Zebo.

"Johnny and Simon suffered cramp towards the end of the game against England and were removed as a precautionary measure," added the IRFU release.

"Both are feeling no ill-effects and trained today."

Conor Murray will continue the return-to-play protocols from his stone-cold concussion on Saturday.

It looked as though Schmidt might have to revisit the calculated risk to take Ian Madigan as the scrum-half cover for Murray and Eoin Reddan.

The manner in which the scrum-half walked off the pitch at Twickenham without assistance and on solid legs was reassuring.

The problems brought home to Wales coach Warren Gatland by the injury to Rhys Webb have been exacerbated by the likely recall of the ditched Mike Phillips.

It could be much worse for Ireland as they make-do without Tommy O'Donnell, Marty Moore and Rhys Ruddock.

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