O'Driscoll set to face Pumas as shoulder worries fade
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL is in line to lead Ireland out for their final November International against Argentina on Sunday as fears surrounding his shoulder injury eased yesterday.
"We expect Brian to be okay," said Ireland manager Paul McNaughton. "He got a bruise on his A/C joint, but he trained this morning. We didn't have a full contact session, so he got fully involved in everything that was done."
Tommy Bowe, Stephen Ferris and Gordon D'Arcy, who are all nursing calf injuries, sat out yesterday's session, as did David Wallace, who is battling an "ongoing problem with his Achilles", but all four are expected to be in the mix for selection.
Definitely out are: full-back Rob Kearney, who had exploratory surgery on his knee yesterday, which will determine how long he will have to spend on the sidelines; his Leinster colleague Luke Fitzgerald, who suffered a grade two medial ligament injury to his left knee against the All Blacks and is expected to be out for four-to-six weeks; and hooker Rory Best, out for six to eight weeks after he had plates inserted into his cheekbone on Sunday.
Better news for Ireland coach Declan Kidney came with the reintroduction of Tony Buckley to the squad. The Munster prop injured his hip against South Africa three weekends ago and was expected to miss the rest of the November series, but McNaughton said he could come into the reckoning for Sunday.
"Tony has been cleared by the medics to play," said the Ireland manager, who added that he did not think the injury situation was directly related to the physical nature of the New Zealand match.
"No, I think it's coincidental. Rory got a fractured cheekbone which could happen any time, Luke's injury was after a high jump, when he landed on his knee. It was a fairly physical game and there were as many tackles by the Irish team in the first half as there would be in a normal game."
Also added to the squad were Leinster second-row Leo Cullen, Leicester full-back Geordan Murphy and Munster hooker Damien Varley, who is nursing a shoulder injury but is expected to be available.
Munster prop John Hayes and Connacht back-row John Muldoon were released to their provinces ahead of this weekend's Magners League games.