Broken hand rules Trimble out of clash with Italians
As fears grow that Jamie Heaslip will miss at least one of Ireland's opening Six Nations games, Andrew Trimble has already been ruled out of the trip to Rome on February 5 after breaking a bone in his right hand.
"Trimble picked up the injury during the Heineken Cup match at the weekend playing for Ulster against Aironi and, following an X-ray, it was found that he had broken a metacarpal in his hand," said a team spokesman.
"This will definitely keep him out of the Italy game and he will have a specialist review this week to determine how long he will be unable to play for."
Tommy Bowe and Stephen Ferris will discover today whether their knee injuries have enough time to heal sufficiently well ahead of Ireland's clash with Italy.
Irish coach Declan Kidney will today give an update on the fitness of hooker Rory Best and Leinster No 8 Heaslip, who has been struggling to shake off an ankle injury for more than a month, as well as confirming whether or not Bowe and Ferris will be available.
"It's hopefully okay," said Bowe. "Fingers crossed I'll be fit. It doesn't feel too sore at the minute. It's not too bad."
Ferris has had two operations on the knee that buckled during Ulster's Heineken Cup win against Aironi last weekend, but he is similarly optimistic.
Kidney is already without his leading two full-backs for the forthcoming Six Nations campaign, Rob Kearney and Geordan Murphy.