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Saturday 21 April 2018

Ireland hoping for Johnny Sexton fitness boost

Ireland are waiting on the fitness of playmaker Johnny Sexton
Ireland are waiting on the fitness of playmaker Johnny Sexton

Johnny Sexton is set to resume full training on Tuesday as he looks to prove his fitness for Ireland's RBS 6 Nations opener in Scotland.

British and Irish Lions fly-half Sexton has been battling a calf problem in a bid to start Ireland's Six Nations campaign at Murrayfield on Saturday.

The 31-year-old pulled up in the first half of Leinster's 24-24 Champions Cup draw in Castres on January 20 and has been chasing full fitness ever since.

But now Ireland's playmaker has the chance to cement his starting spot, provided he comes through Tuesday's session.

"Jonny's making good progress and he's back on track to train tomorrow," said Ireland team manager Paul Dean.

"I think everything is fine, he's being very positive about it.

"Hopefully he'll train properly (on Tuesday) and be fit and ready.

"He's very positive as he always is."

Uncapped Munster wing Andrew Conway has been ruled out of contention for Scotland after aggravating an existing groin problem.

Flanker Sean O'Brien has completed the rehabilitation on his own calf issue and was expected to take full part in Monday afternoon's training session.

Rob Kearney has insisted Ireland remain unfazed by his Leinster team-mate Sexton's latest quest for full fitness.

Sexton battled hamstring trouble before the turn of the year, with this calf problem proving yet another unwanted hurdle.

Experienced full-back Kearney labelled injury doubts "par for the course" in any Test week, then tipped understudy Paddy Jackson to thrive if pressed into service from the start in Scotland.

"We're all so used to it now," said Kearney, of general battles for fitness.

"On a weekly basis, more often than not, there's someone going in or out.

"Someone picks up a niggle or they're not fully fit, so the coach doesn't risk them. The way Test rugby is now, it's par for the course.

"Paddy (Jackson) has been there all last week running the plays. He's more than equipped and he's got a week head-start."

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