IRELAND are resigned to being without Jonathan Sexton for their game against France in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday week.
The Leinster out-half is still receiving intensive daily treatment on his torn hamstring in an effort to speed up his recovery but it is not looking positive, with the Ireland management, privately at least, planning without his considerable influence.
The difficulty in suggesting a possible time frame on Sexton’s likely availability is that he has never suffered the injury before, meaning there is no reference point from where the medical team can gauge his response to treatment.
Officially, the management are hoping he might recover in time but his chances of being available are listed at less than 50pc.
Kidney and his assistants are thinking more in terms of the Italian game on March 16 as a possible return date.
There is some better news on the injury front with regard to Mike McCarthy. The Connacht second-row has been responding well to treatment after suffering medial ligament damage in the loss to England.
He won’t be rushed back into action too early but it is cautiously hoped he will resume training with the squad from Monday when they reconvene at their base in Carton House.
At this juncture, only Craig Gilroy is a fresh injury concern after he strained a groin, but a scan has revealed no long-term damage and he is expected to be fit for the game against France.
Donnacha Ryan suffered a bruised shoulder but that is not an issue with regard to his availability for the France game, although his training regime is being tailored to allow him to maximise recovery periods between matches as his back spasms continue to be a cause for concern.
Meanwhile, Ronan O’Gara will feature for Munster in their Pro12 game against Ospreys at Thomond Park on Saturday night.
The Munster and Ireland out-half will get some more match practice ahead of what promises to be a fraught game next month.
France, of course, are without a win in this year’s championship following another implosion in Twickenham at the weekend when they lost to England.
They have now gone three matches without a win and coach Philippe Saint- Andre is cutting an increasingly beleaguered figure.