Ireland trim Six Nations squad

Joe Schmidt says some of Ireland's Wolfhounds will have another chance to impress

Joe Schmidt says some of Ireland’s Wolfhounds will have another chance to impress

Ireland have trimmed their squad to 38 players for the opening two rounds of the Six Nations Championship, due to injuries and a number of Wolfhounds returning to their provinces.

Joe Schmidt's side open their Six Nations defence against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, before hosting France at the Aviva Stadium the following weekend.

"Jack Conan and Michael Bent did well (on Friday night for the Wolfhounds) 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," Ireland head coach Joe 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."

Dave Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald are expected to be fully fit to train in preparation for Italy, while Eoin Reddan and Jamie Heaslip are progressing well and are likely to be available to train fully on Tuesday, the Irish Rugby Football Union said on Sunday.

Mike McCarthy suffered a concussion during the Wolfhounds game and will stay with the squad while completing the return to play protocols. Cian Healy continues to make very promising progress post his hamstring injury.

Conor Murray trained well on Friday and is expected to be fit for the Azzurri clash.

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