Fit-again props Cian Healy and Mike Ross are in line to boost Ireland’s creaking scrum in Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations match against England at Twickenham.
The Leinster front-rowers have been named in a 34-man squad for the build-up to Ireland’s third-round Six Nations clash.
Lock Dave Foley has replaced Mike McCarthy, sidelined with concussion, Jordi Murphy slots in for hamstring injury victim Sean O’Brien and Ulster’s Craig Gilroy offsets Dave Kearney’s absence through shoulder troubl=.
Healy and Ross came through Leinster’s 14-13 PRO12 victory at Cardiff on Saturday unscathed, and are now set for their first outings in this term’s Six Nations.
“Cian Healy and Mike Ross return to the squad after proving their fitness,” Ireland confirmed in a statement.
“Dave Foley, Jordi Murphy and Craig Gilroy come in for the injured trio of Mike McCarthy, Sean O’Brien and Dave Kearney.”
Johnny Sexton has been named in Ireland’s training squad as anticipated, despite turning his ankle in last week’s open training session.
Ireland’s coaches predicted Sexton would be back in full training on Monday, and expect their premier playmaker to face England without issue.
Scrum deficiencies cost Ireland dear as France eked out a 10-9 victory in Paris in the Six Nations’ second round, leaving the reigning champions winless in this year’s tournament.
Powerful loosehead prop Healy has now fully recovered from knee surgery, while stalwart tighthead Ross is over his hamstring complaint.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt had considered pitching both trusted lieutenants back into Test action against France, but eventually decided against the risk.
Now that both front-rowers have come through their provincial returns, though, they can expect to be involved against England.
Tighthead Tadhg Furlong has picked up a thigh muscle problem too, further opening the door for Ross to be ushered back into the number three berth.
“Tadhg Furlong and Rob Herring are both suffering with thigh muscle injuries so will remain with their provinces to rehab,” the Ireland statement read.
Jack McGrath has battled manfully at loosehead over Ireland’s opening two rounds, but Schmidt can expect to see his scrum shored up by the extra resources of Healy and Ross.
Munster lock Foley swells Ireland’s second-row resources after McCarthy’s nasty clash of heads with team-mate McGrath in Paris, that has most likely ended the Leinster man’s season.
McCarthy has been sent for extra tests with specialists and could be stood down until next term, with Ireland taking no chances over his head injury.
Connacht lock Ultan Dillane could now be in line to win his first cap this weekend.
The 22-year-old would compete with Foley for a seat on the bench if Schmidt opts to pair Donnacha Ryan with Devin Toner in the starting line-up.