Sunday 24 March 2019

Johnny Sexton on track for Ireland's crunch Wales clash

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Johnny Sexton won't train fully with Ireland until Thursday at the earliest but management remain hopeful that their star fly-half will recover from his hamstring problem in time to face Wales on Saturday.

The Racing Metro man is undergoing a modified training schedule after straining the muscle in Ireland's win over England, and Ian Keatley is on standby if he doesn't make it.

However, Ireland manager Mick Kearney said the medical staff were "very happy with where he is at the moment", adding: "He has hit all his markers so far."

Meanwhile, Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien and Jared Payne are all expected to be available for selection.

Heaslip yesterday trained fully for the first time since suffering three cracked vertebrae against France four weeks ago, while O'Brien and Payne continued to undergo graduated return to play protocols after suffering concussion in the England game.

Schmidt yesterday dropped Gordon D'Arcy from his 36-man squad in a move that could signal the end of the Wexford native's illustrious 81-cap international career.

Tadhg Furlong was called up along with Michael Bent and Dan Tuohy, while Wales coach Warren Gatland added hooker Ken Owens and prop Tomas Francis to his squad ahead of his team announcement at 11am today.

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