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McFadden easing way back in


Fergus McFadden. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Fergus McFadden. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Fergus McFadden. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

IRELAND coach Joe Schmidt sees the Irish Wolfhounds fixture against the English Saxons as a positive way of Leinster wing Fergus McFadden "to get a bit of game time leading into the Six Nations".

The Suncroft man fractured his hand against the All Blacks in November and has not been seen out for his province since then. He is badly in need of minutes in order to push his claims to challenge in an area where Tommy Bowe is not ready to resume from a torn groin, Keith Earls could be out long-term, Craig Gilroy is struggling for his best form and Simon Zebo has just returned to action.

Meanwhile, Munster's Earls was waiting anxiously on a scan to his knee due to be carried out yesterday.

The wing had to be aided from the field of play against Edinburgh on Sunday, opening the door for the return of Zebo and Gilroy.

It was as recently as last season when Munster's Zebo and Ulster's Gilroy apparently ushered in a new era of Ireland wing play.

Quicksilver Zebo made such an impression on Warren Gatland he earned a place on the plane for the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.

And then, injury struck. Zebo was ruled out for one day short of three months with a foot injury in October, returning against Gloucester for 10 minutes in the Heineken Cup and Edinburgh for 55 minutes on Sunday.

Gilroy rolled his ankle for the loss of seven weeks against the Ospreys in October. He has since played nine matches, not quite recovering the form of last season.

They have both been added to the Ireland squad as probable inclusions for the Irish Wolfhounds.