Sunday 17 December 2017

Fitzpatrick adds to injury woes but concussed centres to return

Declan Fitzpatrick
Declan Fitzpatrick
Conor George

Conor George

DECLAN FITZPATRICK'S plight in training yesterday summed up the ill-fortune that has enveloped the Ireland squad this season.

Fitzpatrick was added to the squad for this weekend's game against Italy as back-up to tighthead prop Mike Ross. The Ulster prop, however, broke down in training after suffering a recurrence of his calf injury.

Ireland simply can't catch a break with regard to what has become a frightening injury crisis.

In Fitzpatrick's absence, Munster's Stephen Archer will continue as reserve No 3 on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Ulster scrum-half Paul Marshall is one of six players added to the squad for the trip to Rome.

Marshall comes in as replacement for broken leg victim Eoin Reddan.

First-choice No 9 Conor Murray "tweaked" a knee when he came back on as temporary replacement for Brian O'Driscoll in the dying minutes against France but is not considered a worry for Saturday's game.

"Conor will train fully this week. He was fine after Saturday night and we have no worries there," said team manager Mick Kearney.

The uncapped Marshall (27), an 'A' and U-21 international, is the only other scrum-half in the squad so is certain to be on the bench.

Reddan successfully underwent surgery on his broken tibia but is expected to be out for the season, while his Leinster clubmate Fergus McFadden's fractured rib was also confirmed. McFadden faces up to six weeks on the sidelines.

O'Driscoll and Luke Marshall suffered concussion against France and are following 'return to play' protocols, but are likely to be passed fit for the trip to Rome.

The Ireland players returned to their Carton House base on Sunday night in varying states of disrepair.

As well as the concussed duo, second-row Donnacha Ryan is again carrying a shoulder injury, while back-row Peter O'Mahony suffered a dead leg.

Ulster trio Robbie Diack (back-row), Darren Cave (centre) and Craig Gilroy (wing) have also been added to the squad along with the fit-again Jonathan Sexton and Munster flanker Tommy O'Donnell.

The team to take on Italy will now not be named until Thursday.

Irish Independent

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