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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 25 September, 2018
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Kearney, Healy and Reddan likely to come into mix for Scotland clash

Joe Schmidt says other players put their hands up in the win over Italy.

JOE SCHMIDT SAYS Rob Kearney, Cian Healy and Eoin Reddan are likely to be fit next week and the trio will therefore be available for selection against Scotland in the final round of the Six Nations.

Finlay Bealham made his Ireland debut as a late replacement for Cian Healy on Ireland’s bench for today’s 58-15 win over Italy, while Kieran Marmion was the replacement scrum-half in Reddan’s absence.

Simon Zebo, meanwhile, was excellent at fullback as Kearney missed out.

Ian Madigan celebraies his try with Josh van der Flier, Keith Earls and Jared Payne Ireland enjoyed a comprehensive win over the Italians. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Schmidt indicated that Kearney’s hamstring issue, Reddan’s calf problem and Healy’s hamstring strain should all be clear by next week.

“I think Cian, Eoin Reddan and Rob Kearney will all be fit next week,” said Schmidt at the Aviva Stadium.

“That’s part of why we tried to do what we did this week, not to push guys through and risk what were pretty minor strains. They were strains and visible and there was a risk they would tear if we tried to push them through.”

Schmidt said there were no fresh injuries to arise from the win over the Italians, although Robbie Henshaw needed stitches over his eye and Keith Earls also required stitches in his mouth.

While regular first-choice fullback Kearney, back-up nine Reddan and Healy are all set to come into selection contention, Schmidt indicated his belief that those in his matchday squad today had made their points.

“There’s guys who’ve said, ‘Look, this guy maybe usually has this jersey but I’ve done pretty well in it and I’d like to keep my hand up and I’d like it back’.

“The perfect scenario is when you get competition from within a squad. Guys have emerged a bit and are challenging players for their positions and players are making an assumption that they’ll come straight back in, and the guys that aren’t available are too committed to make assumptions.”

Ireland’s Rob Kearney Kearney is set to return to training next week. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

With Scotland to come next weekend in Dublin, Ireland remain in contention for the top-half Six Nations finish that Schmidt targeted before the championship began.

“It’s really tough to consider reasonable returns because we always want more than that and we’re disappointed and I know other people are because we haven’t met the expectations that we set ourselves. Because it’s an Ireland jersey, it’s an Ireland team, regardless of who’s got that jersey,” said Schmidt.

“I think that would be a really good reasonable return if we could get into that third or fourth spot. That would be in the context of where we are right now. That would be a really positive return but for us when we’re always trying to plan ahead, albeit with an eye for the future.

“Certainly our work is the week that we’re in. We’re enthusiastic about what may potentially come out of this championship looking further ahead.”

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Murray Kinsella

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