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.
The Ireland squad, named on Tuesday, for next month's permanent tsb autumn internationals includes four uncapped players.
Coach Eddie O'Sullivan has named newcomers Neil Best, Andrew Trimble (both Ulster), Jamie Heaslip and Robert Kearney (both Leinster) in a 32-man for the trio of Test matches against New Zealand (November 12), Australia (November 19) and Romania (November 26).
The foursome, who are all in their first full season of senior rugby bar the 26-year-old Best, have been in excellent form for their provinces in the Celtic League.
Blindside flanker Best, a fixture in the Ulster squad for the past two seasons, has scored five tries in seven outings - the last of which came on Friday against Benetton Treviso in the Heineken Cup.
Strong-running centre Trimble, 21, has made the most of Paul Steinmetz's sidelining due to a jaw injury to star alongside Ireland midfielder Kevin Maggs for Ulster so far this season. The third-year Theology student has scored three tries in six barnstorming league appearances.
Leinster winger Kearney, Ireland's captain at last summer's Under-19 World Cup, has also been in the tries, matching Trimble's league record, while 21-year-old number eight Heaslip, a nominee for the IRB Young Player of the Year in 2004, has benefitted greatly from new Leinster coach Michael Cheika's grizzled nous as a former back row.
O'Sullivan, commented on the new selections, said: "The back row is again an area where competition is high. Both Jamie (Heaslip) and Neil (Best) have impressed in their performances so far this season. Andrew Trimble has also slotted in well with Ulster and has benefited from their good run."
While team captain Brian O'Driscoll (dislocated shoulder), winger Denis Hickie (dislocated fibula) and flanker Alan Quinlan (knee), among others, are all definitely sidelined for the Lansdowne Road outings, there are two other injury concerns currently occupying O'Sullivan's mind.
Both lock Paul O'Connell (hand) and flanker Simon Easterby (broken nose) are to undergo fitness tests on their injuries to determine their participation next month.
O'Sullivan said: "The cast on Paul O'Connell's hand is due to come off today (Tuesday) and we will wait and see what the specialist says. Simon Easterby suffered a broken nose and was operated on at the weekend, so again we will wait and see what the medical opinion is on his availability.
"The injury rate at this point of the season has been high and with three Lions players out injured, as well as fitness tests pending on two others, this impacts on the experience in the squad considerably.
"At the same time, this creates opportunities for other players in the squad to step forward."
Neil Best (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Simon Best (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Shane Byrne (Saracens), Reggie Corrigan (Greystones/Leinster), Leo Cullen (Leicester), **Simon Easterby (Llanelli), Anthony Foley (Shannon/Munster), John Hayes (Bruff/Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Clontarf/Leinster), Marcus Horan (Shannon/Munster), Matt McCullough (Ballymena/Ulster), 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), Frankie Sheahan (Cork Constitution/Munster), David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster).
Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Kieran Campbell (Dungannon/Ulster), Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Girvan Dempsey (Terenure College/Leinster), Shane Horgan (Lansdowne/Leinster), David Humphreys (Dungannon/Ulster), Robert Kearney (UCD/Leinster), Kieran Lewis (St.Mary's College/Leinster), Geordan Murphy (Leicester), Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution), David Quinlan (Northampton), Peter Stringer (Shannon/Munster), Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster), A.N. Other.
Not considered due to injury: Guy Easterby (Blackrock College/Leinster), Denis Hickie (St.Mary's College/Leinster), Eric Miller (Terenure College/Leinster), Brian O'Driscoll (Blackrock College/Leinster), Alan Quinlan (Shannon/Munster).
N.B.1: ** = Subject to passing a fitness test.
N.B.2: A.N. Other to be named on Sunday, October 30, following round two of the Heineken Cup
2005 AUTUMN INTERNATIONAL FIXTURES:
Saturday, November 12: Ireland v New Zealand, Lansdowne Road, 2.30pm
Saturday, November 19: Ireland v Australia, Lansdowne Road, 2.30pm
Saturday, November 26: Ireland v Romania, Lansdowne Road, 12.30pm