Ulster captain Andrew Trimble is expected to recover from injury in time this week to be in the mix for selection as Ireland face Italy on Saturday in the RBS 6 Nations Championship.
The winger missed the 27-22 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday as Ireland made a disappointing start to this season’s championship.
But Trimble is expected to recover from the groin strain which ruled him out of the opener as Ireland turn their attentions to getting back on track with a game against the Italians.
Meanwhile, Ireland could hold outhalf Jonny Sexton back from facing the Italians.
The Leinster man is understood to be nearing full fitness for Saturday’s game as he recovers from calf trouble. Team manager, Paul Dean, admitted yesterday they may still put the brakes on a Sexton return this weekend.
“Johnny is continuing his rehab and his progress will be monitored across the week, but he’s back running which is very positive,” said Dean.
“As you well know, Johnny would play today if we’d let him but we have to monitor his recovery and make sure he’s fine.”
Dean also accepted they were not expecting to see influential centre Jared Payne at any stage during the Six Nations campaign as he continues to recover from injury.