12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan named his 22-man squad for the RBS 6 Nations Championship opener against Italy on Wednesday. The clash with the Azzurri takes place at Lansdowne Road on Saturday, February 4 (kick-of 1.30pm).
There is one uncapped player in the squad in the shape of Wasps scrum half Eoin Reddan. Munster hooker Jerry Flannery has also been included in the squad and will be challenged by Ulster's Rory Best for the number 2 jersey. Another Munster player to make the 22 is David Wallace, whose last cap for Ireland came in the second Test against Japan last June.
Coach Eddie O'Sullivan said: "There were some very hard calls made to reduce the squad to our match 22, but as always we have gone with the players in form at this time."
He added: "With the performances of the provinces in European competition last weekend, there is certainly a good positive feeling in the camp, but the players and staff are well aware of the challenge that Italy will represent next weekend. The game is certainly going to be a tough opening test as it was last year."
IRELAND SQUAD (v ITALY) is as follows:
Rory Best (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Simon Best (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Simon Easterby (Llanelli)
Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
John Hayes (Bruff/Munster)
Marcus Horan (Shannon/Munster)
Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Paul O'Connell (Young Munster/Munster)
Johnny O'Connor (Wasps)
Malcolm O'Kelly (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster)
Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Shane Horgan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
David Humphreys (Dungannon/Ulster)
Geordan Murphy (Leicester)
Brian O'Driscoll (Blackrock College/Leinster) (CAPTAIN)
Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Eoin Reddan (Wasps)
Peter Stringer (Shannon/Munster)
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)