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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 12 July, 2020

Carty and Byrne set for Ireland chances as Carbery pushes to make recovery

Johnny Sexton, Keith Earls, James Ryan and Robbie Henshaw sat out Ireland training today.

Murray Kinsella reports from Portugal

JOHNNY SEXTON, KEITH Earls, James Ryan and Robbie Henshaw all sat out Ireland’s squad training session in Portugal this morning but their coaches have “no real fears” about them ahead of the World Cup.

Meanwhile, assistant coach Richie Murphy suggested that Joey Carbery is no guarantee to travel to Japan as he recovers from an ankle injury, meaning there may be real opportunity for Ross Byrne and Jack Carty to earn places in the travelling squad. 

Ross Byrne Leinster's Ross Byrne at Ireland training in Portugal. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Leinster and Connacht out-halves are set to have opportunities in warm-up games against England and Wales in the coming weeks, with Ireland keen to test out their options in the event that Carbery does not recover in time.

Following this morning’s session under the Portuguese sun at The Campus in the Algarve region, Murphy said Sexton, Earls and Henshaw had reported “a bit of soreness” after a tough squad hit-out on Monday. Second row James Ryan also sat out the session.

It’s now unclear whether those four will be involved against England on Saturday at Twickenham but there are no worries they could be missing for the two warm-up clashes against Wales in the following fortnight.

“There are no real fears about them, it’s just about managing them and getting their workload right for possibly involvement this week and, if not, the following week,” said Murphy.

While most of Ireland’s current 40-man squad took part in a squad session today, the injured Joey Carbery is undertaking his own rehabilitation programme after a recent minor ankle procedure that Ireland say will rule him out for four to six weeks.

The 23-year-old is understood to still be in a moon boot as he recovers from a procedure on his ankle, but Murphy says the Munster playmaker is making progress.

“Joey is doing really, really well. Obviously, the timeframe around his injury has been well stated. He’s recovering really well, he’s well into his recovery programme and, talking to him, he feels good and confident. He’s exactly where the medics would expect him to be at the moment.”

Joe Schmidt Schmidt and Ireland have been in Portugal since last Wednesday. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While Carbery is hopeful of being fit in time to be involved in Ireland’s World Cup opener against Scotland in Yokohama on 22 September, Murphy indicated that they must prepare in the event that he does not recover in time.

“He’s definitely trying to get back for that first Scotland game, but it’s a case of how we manage that and also manage the squad because although he is very much online for that timeframe, we also have to have contingency plans in place.

“So we’ll look at them through the next few weeks and get game time for certain people.”

That means Carty and Byrne, the two other out-half options behind Sexton, are set to feature against England and Wales – with both possible featuring at Twickenham on Saturday.

Whether Joe Schmidt is willing to risk bringing an injured player in his already-small 31-man squad for Japan remains to be seen.

“Again, we have left that quite open at the moment and we have conversations in and around the make-up of the squad,” said Murphy. 

“I’ve heard a lot of conversations around whether to bring three number nines or three number 10s and how that breaks down. We’ll make an assessment a little bit closer, we’re not making assessments at the moment.

Jack Carty Carty played off the bench against Italy two weekends ago. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“We’re just watching Joey, keeping a very close eye on how he’s progressing. At this moment, we’re very happy with where he’s at but whether there’s a spot for him or not will depend on other players.

“Opportunities will go to the likes of Jack and Ross as well as Johnny getting game time over the next few weeks.”

While the out-half conundrum is particularly interesting for Ireland now, the scrum-half battle has been reduced after John Cooney was among three players cut from Schmidt’s training squad last week.

Conor Murray, Kieran Marmion and Luke McGrath are now the three options at scrum-half, with Cooney on the outside looking in.

“It’s a decision that was based on what we’ve seen from the guys,” said Murphy of Cooney being cut. “We’re in a very lucky position that we have four really good scrum-halves and the feeling was that we didn’t have enough time to give four guys game time in preparation for the World Cup.

“It’s unfortunate for John, he’s the one that’s missed out on this occasion. But if something was to happen and John came back in we’d be very happy because he’s a fantastic player.”

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Murray Kinsella

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