Six Nations
Heaslip a 'small doubt' for Italy
ESPN Staff
February 2, 2015

Ireland are hopeful Conor Murray will be fit for their Six Nations opener against Italy on Saturday but they are facing an anxious wait to see if Jamie Heaslip will be available as he battles back from a shoulder injury.

Ireland will be without Jonathan Sexton for the opener as he continues his return from concussion and last Friday's bruising encounter with the England Saxons has seen both Mike McCarthy (concussion) and Fergus McFadden (rib cartilage) ruled out. Ireland are hopeful Sexton will be fit for their match against France on February 14.

While those trio will sit out the opener in Rome, Ireland team manager Michael Kearney says they expect Murray will be available for selection as he progresses to full contact training this week.

There is, however, "a small degree of doubt" over Heaslip's fitness. "Jamie Heaslip continued to rehab his shoulder and we are hopeful he will train fully tomorrow," Kearney said. "There is some small doubt about him. He has rehabbed really well and Jamie being the professional athlete that he is, he really does look after his body really well and worked on it over the weekend, so the next day or two will tell a lot. It would be a small degree of doubt."

Ireland plan to have Cian Healy back in the selection mix for the France game while they are hopeful on three other returning players' prospects. Kearney said: "Eoin Reddan is making good progress from a knee ligament injury and we are hopeful he will train tomorrow also. Dave Kearney has recovered well and he should train fully today. Luke Fitzgerald had a bout of vomiting on Thursday night but is now fully recovered and will train as normal today.

"Cian Healy is doing a test at the moment and if he comes through that test he will be allowed train fully for the rest of the week. If that happens, given the athlete that he is, I would expect he would be in consideration for the French game. I doubt it (that he would be in consideration for the Italian game).

"Finally, a number of players who hadn't a lot of game-time came through really well. Jack McGrath, Mike Ross, Iain Henderson, Sean O'Brien and Keith Earls. They are all fully fit and will train fully this week."

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