10 Mar 2015

Ireland expect injured pair back for Wales clash

11:54 am on 10 March 2015

Six Nations rugby champions Ireland are confident Jonathan Sexton and Jamie Heaslip will return from injury in time to face Wales as they chase a second grand slam in six years.

No.8 Heaslip missed Ireland's 19-9 win over England last time out - a victory that ensured they became the only side to win their opening three games - while first five-eighth Sexton limped off in the second half with a hamstring injury.

Jonathan Sexton (L) and Jamie Heaslip

Jonathan Sexton (L) and Jamie Heaslip Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"Jonathan continues to improve, the expectation is he'll train fully later in the week and obviously once he does, he'll be good to go and available for selection," the team manager, Michael Kearney, told national broadcaster RTE.

"Jamie's expected to train fully this week and barring any setback, he'll be available for selection."

Kearney added that flanker Sean O'Brien and centre Jared Payne would also return to full contact training this week after leaving the field against England with head injuries.

Ireland called up forwards Michael Bent, Tadhg Furlong and Dan Tuohy to their 36-man training squad for the trip to Cardiff and final game against Scotland at Murrayfield a week later.

However there was no place for Gordon D'Arcy who has lost his place at centre to the new pairing of Robbie Henshaw and Payne, raising doubts over the 35-year-old's chances of making the World Cup in September and adding to his 81 caps.