Double injury blow leaves Kidney pondering options
THE Ireland squad gathered in Killiney last night with Declan Kidney reassessing his options for Saturday's crucial match against England after further injury disruption over the weekend.
Having already lost full-back Rob Kearney and hooker Jerry Flannery from the team that started the defeat in France, Kidney must now do without second-row Donnacha Ryan and flanker Sean O'Brien, who were both on the bench in Paris.
Ryan dislocated his shoulder in Munster's Magners League win over Edinburgh on Friday and is expected to miss the rest of the Six Nations; O'Brien broke his leg in Leinster's win over Scarlets on Saturday and will be out for 10-12 weeks.
Kidney has added 14 players to the 18 remaining from Paris, with Geordan Murphy back in the mix after an impressive, try-scoring display for Leicester on Saturday. Connacht full-back Gavin Duffy and Munster full-back Denis Hurley are also in the extended party, as are Leinster flanker Shane Jennings and winger Shane Horgan.
Jennings is in line to replace O'Brien in the 22 given his qualifications as a specialist open-side, while Donncha O'Callaghan, who has missed Ireland's opening two Six Nations games with injury, will come in for Ryan if he is cleared by the medical team.
Paul O'Connell and Leo Cullen are expected to start at Twickenham and, with no Mick O'Driscoll or Bob Casey in the squad, the only other second-row in the 32 is Ulster's Dan Tuohy, although Leinster flanker Kevin McLaughlin could cover the role.
Connacht hooker Sean Cronin will be in the 22, as he and Rory Best are the only No 2s named.
IRELAND SQUAD -- R Best, T Bowe, T Buckley, T Court, S Cronin, L Cullen, G D'Arcy, G Duffy, K Earls, S Ferris, J Hayes, C Henry, C Healy, J Heaslip, M Horan, S Horgan, D Hurley, S Jennings, K McLaughlin, J Murphy, G Murphy, D O'Callaghan, B O'Driscoll, P O'Connell, R O'Gara, T O'Leary, E Reddan, J Sexton, A Trimble, D Tuohy, D Wallace, P Wallace.