Ireland play down Sexton fears
Six Nations leaders Ireland expect playmaker Jonathan Sexton to be fit for their March 8 match at home to Italy.
Six Nations leaders Ireland expect playmaker Jonathan Sexton to be fit for their March 8 match at home to Italy, despite the flyhalf's fitness being called into question by his French club, Racing Metro.
Sexton suffered a thumb injury during Ireland's 10-13 loss to England at Twickenham last weekend - a defeat that denied the Irish the Triple Crown and ended their hopes of a Grand Slam.
Racing said Thursday that Sexton could be ruled out for between 10 days to six weeks.
However, a statement issued by the Irish Rugby Football Union forecast Sexton would face Italy.
"The Ireland medical team have had a consultant hand specialist review Johnny and his scans," it said.
"The ligament damage sustained does not warrant surgery and if Johnny continues his current rate of improvement we would be confident that he will be available for selection against Italy."
The 28-year-old Sexton, who has won 41 caps, does though seem set to miss Racing's French Top 14 match at Castres on Saturday.
In other injury news it was revealed that Brian O'Driscoll continues to recuperate and took part in on-field activity in Belfast, but did his conditioning work off-feet to facilitate his continuing recovery.
Peter O'Mahony's hamstring strain is improving. It is hoped that he will commence running over the weekend.
Andrew Trimble took a knock to his knee during the training session in Belfast and was withdrawn from the session as a precaution. Initial review revealed no immediate concerns and he will be reviewed at the weekend.
Ireland's loss last weekend left them in a four-way tie at the top of the Six Nations with England, two-time defending champions Wales and France.
However, Ireland - who conclude their Six Nations campaign in Paris on March 15 - have a points difference of +42 compared to England's +21, Wales' +6 and France's +1.