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Ferris Heads Injury List As Ireland Prepare For Italy

Ferris Heads Injury List As Ireland Prepare For Italy

Flanker Stephen Ferris has emerged as the main injury worry for Ireland ahead of their RBS 6 Nations opener against Italy on Saturday. The Ulsterman sat out Monday’s training session at the RDS as he continues his recovery from a knee injury sustained in the recent Heineken Cup win over Bath.

There were a few notable absentees as the Irish squad trained at the RDS on Monday, with team manager Paul McNaughton issuing an update afterwards on the players who missed the session.

“There’s a couple of guys who didn’t train today, Brian (O’Driscoll) and Stephen (Ferris). Donncha (O’Callaghan) took a limited part in training,” he said.

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“There’s some concern about Brian and Donncha, but they aren’t major worries. The guy we’re more concerned about is Stephen.

“Brian has a small quad strain. We expect him to train tomorrow (Tuesday). Donncha and Stephen have knee issues.

“Stephen picked up his injury in Ulster’s win over Bath, so he wasn’t in camp last week. The advice was to keep him off his feet completely last week, which we did.

“He’s in camp this week, he didn’t train today. So, calls will be made in the next couple of days. We think that he’s still available for selection.”

The picture regarding Ferris’ fitness will become clearer when the Ireland team to play Italy is announced tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday).

Prop Marcus Horan is not in contention to feature against the Italians, having been named in the squad for the Ireland Wolfhounds’ game against Scotland ‘A’, and the Championship opener may also come too soon for fit-again hooker Rory Best.

But backs coach Alan Gaffney revealed that the Irish management were pleased with what they saw from the Ulster captain during his 40-minute run out against England Saxons at the weekend.

“We thought Rory went well, considering what he’s come back from. He’s battled back from a pretty serious neck injury,” explained Gaffney.

“To get through the 40 minutes he did on Sunday, in a fairly tough game against a young but experienced Saxons side, he did pretty well.

“He could have played on but the advice was to take him off after 40, and we did. We were delighted with his (lineout) throwing, all aspects of his game.”

Asked if he feels both Best and Jerry Flannery, who is working his way back from Achilles problem, are fit enough to step up to Six Nations level, Gaffney said: “In reality, both of them are very good players, very experienced players and they’ve been around the block a number of times.

“And I think both of them would carry themselves very well in a Six Nations game right at this moment.”