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.
With Ireland seeded 13th, Fleming's side faces a huge task against a canadian side fancied to do very well in the competition although they were unconvincing in winning one and drawing one of their two Tests against Wales last autumn.
By their own admission, the Welsh were lucky to get out of Limerick with a 13-9 victory in the opening round of the Six Nations back in February, the first Womens international ever to be played at Thomond Park.
"It's so hard to tell what Canada will be like as we haven't played them before, but that could count in our favour, especially if they write us off," insists Fleming. "Facing them first up is our best chance of victory and we go into this one much more positive and with less of a fear factor than we did in the corresponding match four years ago, when we lost 21-nil to Australia."
Victory here would undoubtedly be Ireland's most famous result in womens internationals to date and set up a quarter final tie on Saturday with the winners of this evening's clash between Scotland and Samoa. If, however, firm favourites Canada deliver, defeat would leave Ireland needing to win all three remaining matches to better the10th place they achieved in Holland in 1998.
Ireland. SJ Belton (UL Bohs) ; S Fleming (Cooke, Capt) P Kelly (UL Bohs) N Milne (Worcester) R Boyd (Cooke,); R Howell (UL Bohs) K Eagleson (Cooke); J Lonergan (Shannon), E Collins (UL Bohs) M Coulter (Blackrock) R Foley (Shannon), A M McAllister (Blackrock), R Reid (Cooke), M O'Loughlin (UL Bohs), F Steed (Shannon) Replacements: J Sparkes (Blackrock) L Cantwell (UL Bohs), F Neary ((Waterloo) M Dolo (Old Belvedere), E Coen (Highfield), M Quirke (UL Bohs) B Montgomery (Ripon).