O'Driscoll set to miss first two warm-up games as injury worries mount
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL is "unlikely" to feature in the first two World Cup warm-up internationals against Scotland and France, but the greatest injury concerns in Declan Kidney's camp are Stephen Ferris and Gordon D'Arcy, who were described yesterday as being in "a race against time".
O'Driscoll is nursing a shoulder/neck injury, but Ireland manager Paul McNaughton said the Ireland captain has been doing 80pc of the work in training and that there are no real worries about his availability for the World Cup campaign, which kicks off against the US Eagles on September 11.
Fellow Lions Ferris and D'Arcy are battling knee and ankle injuries respectively and, while optimistic about their progress, McNaughton said their participation in August is in doubt.
However, the Ireland manager confirmed that the pair could still travel to New Zealand even if they fail to play in any of the warm-up clashes.
"If there is a likelihood of guys not playing before the World Cup then it's those two," said McNaughton. "It's a preference that they have some game time before they go, but we'll never say never on anybody.
"We're hopeful that they may be ready for game time, maybe in match three or four of the summer series. Gordon is tight to make the World Cup. He recovers quickly and is running while bearing his full weight, so is making progress."
There was positive news on three long-term injury concerns, with full-backs Rob Kearney and Geordan Murphy and hooker Jerry Flannery available for selection against Scotland, while Shane Jennings is also making good progress.
"Flannery (calf), Kearney (knee) and Murphy (ankle) are ready to go," said McNaughton. "In general, the injury situation has been getting better over the last couple of weeks, but we have five matches and need to give guys game time."