Henderson citing gives Schmidt fresh headache for Italian clash
Iain Henderson's expected return to the international fold could be put on ice after he was cited for an alleged act of dangerous play in his comeback from injury for Ulster on Friday night.
The second-row was initially expected to miss the first three rounds of the Six Nations but he was a surprise inclusion in the line-up for the province's away game against Ospreys last Friday night ahead of Sunday's clash with Italy.
However, he now faces a disciplinary hearing today after a ruck incident 15 minutes into the Bridgend clash and, if banned, would be ruled out of the Stadio Olimpico fixture.
Henderson will appear before the three-person disciplinary committee via video link.
Schmidt should be able to call on Tadhg Beirne for the first time in this year's tournament as he returned to the squad, while his Munster colleague Chris Farrell could also be available for the trip to Rome despite coming off with a knee injury against Southern Kings on Friday night.
His club coach Johann van Graan was cautiously optimistic about the centre's chances of making it.
The game looks set to come too soon for Garry Ringrose, who trained with Leinster yesterday.
Tighthead prop Andrew Porter was also on the pitch at UCD which suggests John Ryan could be involved against the Italians.
Rhys Ruddock has been ruled out of the game with a hamstring problem, while Dan Leavy remains sidelined.
It is understood that Ulster's Will Addison is carrying a knock and could also miss out this weekend as the injuries mount for the struggling Six Nations champions.
Schmidt may recall Kieran Marmion after he returned from injury for Connacht against Cheetahs on Saturday, while Andrew Conway is back.
Billy Holland is back with Munster having been called up for Scotland.