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Stockdale fit for France clash as Ireland announce clean bill of health

Joe Schmidt has lots of in-form options for the visit to Paris in the Six Nations.

JACOB STOCKDALE HAS recovered from a dead leg and will be available for selection for Ireland against France in the opening round of the Six Nations on Saturday.

Ireland today confirmed that all 36 players in their current training squad are fit and available to head coach Joe Schmidt for this weekend’s trip to Paris.

Jacob Stockdale Stockdale is good to go. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Loosehead prop Dave Kilcoyne, who missed last week’s training camp in Spain, will remain with Munster this week to continue his rehabilitation from a knee injury, but Ireland say he is “progressing positively”.

Stockdale had suffered a dead leg in Ulster’s Champions Cup defeat to Wasps two weekends ago, forcing him off the pitch during that tie, but he has made a swift recovery and is among the options for Schmidt out wide.

With Rob Kearney expected to start at fullback and Keith Earls looking like a certainty on the left wing, Stockdale appears to be in competition with Munster’s Andrew Conway and Leinster pair Fergus McFadden and Jordan Larmour for the final spot in the back three.

Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki are likely to be in midfield against France, with Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray fit to start in the halfbacks.

Tadhg Furlong and Rory Best are set to be joined by one of Cian Healy and Jack McGrath in the front row, while Devin Toner and Iain Henderson appear to be favourites to start in the second row.

The absence of Sean O’Brien in the back row means Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan, Dan Leavy and Jordi Murphy are all in contention to start, with CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony looking set to retain their November places.

Schmidt will name his team on Thursday afternoon, but having so many fit and in-form options is a huge positive for the Ireland boss.

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Murray Kinsella

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