Monday 11 December 2017

Centre Payne is Ireland's main concern as Healy and Ross add to scrum options

Jared Payne Photo: Sportsfile
Jared Payne Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Healy Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland team manager Mick Kearney spoke of the "hope" that Jared Payne would train today ahead of Saturday's Six Nations clash against England at Twickenham.

"It's a bit of a wait and see," he said.

"I'd say the expectation is that he will train fully tomorrow (Tuesday), so we'll know a little bit more by this time tomorrow."

The outside centre is Ireland's main concern as out-half Jonathan Sexton was pencilled in to fully train yesterday, including kicking on his turned ankle.

"It was a very minor roll and he was just taken out of the session by Joe purely as a precaution. I mean he could have actually trained on," said Kearney re-assurringly about the out-half.

Leinster props Cian Healy and Mike Ross will surely make the 23-man Ireland squad as long as they don't encounter any complications from their return from respective knee and hamstring injuries.

"I think they're pretty well there," added Kearney.

"They both participated in Leinster's last two games and both got a significant amount of game time at the weekend against Cardiff, so they're in, fully fit and available for selection."

The form of Jack McGrath has been undeniable and the two-week break came at just the right time for the loose-head.

He was forced to play back-to-back internationals in six days, going the full 80 against Wales and for 74 minutes against France.

The limited time given to James Cronin looked like the right decision as the Munster man was well below what was expected at the scrum against the Ospreys in the PRO12 at the weekend.

He has been released to rejoin his province in light of Healy's return to full fitness.

The question over Ross revolves around whether he should start or come off the bench for Nathan White.

Wing Simon Zebo is back to full fitness, while prop Tadhg Furlong and hooker Rob Herring were returned to their provinces with thigh strains.

The misfortune of Sean O'Brien, Mike McCarthy and Dave Kearney to fall foul of injury means an opportunity for Leinster's Jordi Murphy, Munster's Dave Foley and Ulster's Craig Gilroy to make an impression this week.

England have not come out of the weekend completely unscathed either.

Bath centre Ollie Devoto suffered a concussion and has been replaced in their 32-man squad by Northampton's Luther Burrell.

Sale Shark number eight Josh Beaumont has been ruled out with a dislocated shoulder. The difference is that none of these are likely to make the cut for Ireland.

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