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Fitzgerald recovering as Schmidt prepares to trim Six Nations squad

The Wolfhounds suffered a number of injuries last night against the Saxons.

Schmidt will reduce the size of his Ireland squad over the weekend.
Schmidt will reduce the size of his Ireland squad over the weekend.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

A NUMBER OF Ireland’s Six Nations squad face an anxious day or so as head coach Joe Schmidt gets set to trim the group down ahead of next weekend’s trip to Rome to face Italy.

Schmidt will extensively review last night’s Wolfhounds defeat to the English Saxons as part of the decision-making process, which will bring the squad down to somewhere in the region of 35 players.

It is expected that the finalised Six Nations group will be publicly announced on Sunday evening or early Monday morning.

Schmidt and his coaching staff originally called up 46 players to their wider training squad, adding Eoin McKeon of Connacht and Munster wing Andrew Conway as additional injury cover thereafter.

But with the Wolfhounds fixture now completed, there is little need for such an extensive training group. Last night’s game in Cork did throw up a handful of injury concerns, although the likes of Sean O’Brien, Keith Earls and Iain Henderson happily came through unscathed.

Second row Mike McCarthy was removed with a head injury just before half time, and an IRFU spokesperson confirmed that the Leinster man had suffered concussion. An eight-day turnaround to the Italy fixture means McCarthy could still be involved next weekend.

Fergus McFadden “took a bang in the ribs” early on, being replaced by Conway with just 13 minutes played, although he needs further assessment to the injury before Ireland’s medical staff make a judgement on a recovery timeframe.

Mike McCarthy tackles Dave Ewers Mike McCarthy suffered concussion last night agaist the Saxons. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Craig Gilroy was taken off for a Head Injury Assessment late in the Wolfhounds’ defeat after a bang to the face, but passed that assessment and has only suffered bruising around the eye.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed that Luke Fitzgerald had been forced to withdraw from the game early yesterday morning, after a stomach bug caused a bout of vomiting the night before the Saxons clash.

The Leinster man is expected to be back in training next week and in contention to travel to Rome as part of the matchday squad.

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Murray Kinsella

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