Monday 19 February 2018

McLaughlin set for Ireland call as Ferris' tour in 'serious doubt'

Hugh Farrelly

KEVIN McLAUGHLIN is poised for a call-up to the Ireland squad with Stephen Ferris rated "a serious doubt" to make the tour to New Zealand.

Ferris picked up a calf strain in Ulster's Heineken Cup final defeat by Leinster last weekend and was due to see a specialist yesterday, with a decision on his availability set to be made early next week.

Ireland team manager Mick Kearney confirmed that McLaughlin, starting on the blindside flank for Leinster in their Pro12 final showdown against the Ospreys tomorrow, would come into the squad if Ferris is ruled out.

"Kevin is on stand-by," said Kearney, "Stephen is being monitored and there is a possibility he may miss the tour -- he would have to be considered a fairly serious doubt."

Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy are expected to recover from knee and quad injuries respectively in time for the first Test against the All Blacks, with O'Brien undergoing the same surgery that Brian O'Driscoll had eight days before he played in the Heineken Cup final.

Kearney was also upbeat on Paul O'Connell's recovery from a knee injury. "We are reasonably optimistic, Paul is feeling good. He did some running today and he is progressing well," said Kearney.

If O'Connell was ruled out, Devin Toner and Mike McCarthy would be in the mix as second-row replacements while Leo Cullen, who captains Leinster tomorrow, is fit and available and would merit consideration following his strong showing in the Heineken Cup final.

Leinster scrum-half Isaac Boss is also out of the Pro12 final, with Ulster's Paul Marshall -- in the Ireland squad for the clash with the Barbarians on Tuesday -- and Munster's Tomas O'Leary in contention if Boss is ruled out.

Irish Independent

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