herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Ireland hope Johnny Sexton will be fit to start against Wales

Jonathan Sexton
Jonathan Sexton

IRELAND remain hopeful that Johnny Sexton can recover from his hamstring injury in time to face Wales on Saturday, but he is unlikely to train fully until Thursday.

Manager Mick Kearney said that the medical team are “happy” with where the fly-half is at and is "hitting his markers", but his inability to train until later in the week remains a concern and Joe Schmidt has included Ian Madigan and Ian Keatley in his squad as cover.

Jamie Heaslip will take a full part in training at Carton House this afternoon and is now expected to return to the team to face Warren Gatland’s side at the Millenium Stadium, while Jared Payne and Sean O’Brien are still recovering from their concussions and are being gradually introduced to training. Both are hopeful of starting.

Kearney said the decision to omit Gordon D’Arcy from the 36-man squad named earlier today was purely a selection issue, but said the veteran centre’s international career is far from over.

Having won three from three, a Grand Slam remains a distinct possibility for Ireland ahead of the crucial showdown against a Welsh side undergoing a revival under the former Ireland coach.

One issue that is yet to be resolved is the Millenium Stadium roof with the Irish management reserving the right to decide whether it will be open or closed until they know more about what the conditions will be like.

“We’re waiting to see what the weather forecast,” Kearney said. “I think the final decision is on Thursday, our preference would be for a dry day, we’ll wait and see.”

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