Jordan Larmour and Andrew Conway set to face Scots as injuries force Joe Schmidt's hand
Joe Schmidt will be forced into re-jigging his back-three for Sunday's World Cup opener against Scotland in Yokohama.
Despite assistant coach Andy Farrell yesterday insisting that Rob Kearney and Keith Earls are available for selection, the Irish Independent understands that both veterans are struggling with injury, while Robbie Henshaw will definitely miss out due to his hamstring problem.
Kearney damaged his calf in training earlier this week and hasn't fully recovered, with Earls in the same boat regarding his knee issue. Should both players miss out, as expected, Andrew Conway is in line to start at full-back with Jordan Larmour set to take Earls' place on the right wing.
Although there are doubts hanging over three of Ireland's backs, Farrell confirmed that Will Addison, who is on standby, has not been asked to join the squad in Japan just yet.
"The best thing for Will is for him to keep ticking over and playing and training and keeping his rugby brain going as well," Farrell said.
"He's had a good pre-season because he's come back from a big old injury with his back, so it's important that he keeps going rugby-wise."
Otherwise, Schmidt is expected to name a full-strength team tomorrow morning at 7am (Irish time).
Farrell added that he expects to see Ireland returning to their best form for what is a huge clash with Scotland.
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"We would expect quite a bit (of improvement).
"We have been gearing up for this game. Our whole pre-season has obviously been building to certain parts to get different stages and bases of skill level and fitness etc.
"Our planning has been building up to a good start in this competition, so you would except for us to hit the ground running."