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McFadden set for Six Nations call-up as injury crisis deepens

FERGUS McFADDEN is in line for a senior call-up ahead of next week's Six Nations opener against Italy as Ireland's injury crisis deepened yesterday.

Three more players were ruled out of the early stages of the tournament yesterday, with prop John Hayes (groin), No 8 Jamie Heaslip (ankle) and winger Shane Horgan (knee) out of the Italy game and rated very doubtful for the following week's clash with France.

Horgan's injury adds to coach Declan Kidney's back three concerns, with winger Andrew Trimble already ruled out with an arm injury, full-backs Rob Kearney and Geordan Murphy on the long-term casualty list and doubts over Tommy Bowe pending the results of a medical examination on a knee injury.

It could open the door for the in-form McFadden, the centre who has excelled on the wing for Leinster this season and was deemed very unlucky not to make Kidney's senior squad last week.

Instead, McFadden was included in the Wolfhounds squad to take on Scotland 'A' in Netherdale on Friday night and, whether he is withdrawn from that squad to train with the senior squad in Limerick or gets the chance to make a further impression, the 24-year-old looks poised to come into the equation.

There are further concerns over Ulster hooker Rory Best and flanker Stephen Ferris, who are battling rib and knee injuries respectively, while Munster hooker Jerry Flannery had already been ruled out of the Italy and France games.

"It may not look good, it's a few more injuries than we would have liked, but it's a chance for other guys," said Ireland defence coach Les Kiss.

Irish Independent