John Cooney misses out as Joe Schmidt trims his squad to 40 and keeps injured Joey Carbery on board
Ulster scrum-half John Cooney has been left out of Ireland’s World Cup squad as Joe Schmidt reduced his panel to 40 this morning.
The squad departed for their warm-weather training camp in Portugal without Cooney, Mike Haley and Finlay Bealham who have been deemed surplus to requirements.
Schmidt last week omitted Munster’s Rory Scannell and Connacht’s Ultan Dillane before a ball was kicked in the pre-season warm-ups and Cooney and Bealham will both be disappointed they didn’t get an opportunity to stake their claim.
Having been involved in the Six Nations, the scrum-half’s ability to goal-kick and move into out-half looked like a real asset as Schmidt looks for versatility in the ranks.
But it has appeared increasingly likely that the squad would contain three out-halves and two scrum-halves and Joey Carbery's ankle injury has firmed the coach’s thinking as he copes without his No 2 out-half for the rest of the pre-World Cup series.
Ireland's bulletin this morning said Carbery would continue his rehabilitation with the squad and would miss between four and six weeks, meaning he has a strong chance of being available for the World Cup opener.
With Cooney gone, Luke McGrath and Kieran Marmion will battle it out to join Conor Murray on the plane, while Bealham's departure means both John Ryan and Andrew Porter will go to the tournament if fit.
A surprise call-up when the initial squad was named, Haley was always an outside bet to make the plane and his omission does not have a major bearing on the highly competitive battle for spots in the outside backs.
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Ireland will train in the Algarve until next Thursday, before travelling to London to take on England. After that, they face back-to-back clashes with Wales with the final 31-man squad due to be named between those games.
The IRFU say Rob Herring (back) and Devin Toner (ankle) have recovered from the injuries they picked up against Italy.
Forwards: Rory Best, Jack Conan, Tadhg Beirne, Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Dave Kilcoyne, Jean Kleyn, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O'Mahony, Rhys Ruddock, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, CJ Stander, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier.
Backs: Will Addison, Bundee Aki, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Ross Byrne, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Kieran Marmion, Conor Murray, Luke McGrath, Garry Ringrose, Jonathan Sexton, Jacob Stockdale.