Six Nations 2015: Joe Schmidt names 38-man Ireland squad

Ireland head coach trims squad to after the Ireland Wolfhounds game ahead of first match against Italy

Joe Schmidt has named a 38-man squad to take on Italy and France in the opening two rounds of the Six Nations.

The Ireland head coach has been handed a major boost with Leinster wings Luke Fitzgerald and Dave Kearney expected to train next week with a view to being available for selection.

Kearney’s club team-mate Cian Healy is also making progress from a hamstring injury, with Munster scrum-half Conor Murray also expected to be fit for the match against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

There is further good news on the injury front for the reigning champions with Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip and scrum-half Eoin Reddan scheduled to train on Tuesday.

But Schmidt confirmed a number of players involved in Ireland Wolfhounds’ 18-9 defeat to England Saxons have returned to their provinces to get more game time or recover from injuries picked up during the match in Cork.

“Jack Conan and Michael Bent did well against the Saxons but will return to Leinster, as will Noel Reid who was restricted to a brief cameo as he was covering a number of positions,” Schmidt said.

“Rob Herring returns to Ulster and will look forward to having an opportunity for further game time.

“Fergus McFadden has a rib cartilage injury, while Craig Gilroy will follow the return-to-play protocols after a concussion in the Wolfhounds game.

Ireland Squad to face Italy and France:

Forwards (20): Rory Best (Ulster), James Cronin (Munster), Seán Cronin (Leinster), Robbie Diack (Ulster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Mike McCarthy (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Martin Moore (Leinster), Jordi Murphy (Leinster), Seán O’Brien (Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Munster), Tommy O’Donnell (Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Dominic Ryan (Leinster), Richardt Strauss (Leinster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Nathan White (Connacht).

Backs (18): Isaac Boss (Leinster), Tommy Bowe (Ulster), Darren Cave (Ulster), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Felix Jones (Munster), David Kearney (Leinster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Ian Keatley (Munster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Conor Murray (Munster), Jared Payne (Ulster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro), Simon Zebo (Munster).

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