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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 20 February, 2020

Ireland quartet made available to Connacht but centre emerges as injury doubt

Stacey Ili picked up an ankle issue against Cardiff last weekend and may miss the visit of the Dragons.

Connacht head coach Pat Lam.
Connacht head coach Pat Lam.
Image: Camerasport/Ian Cook/INPHO

CONNACHT COACH PAT Lam will be able to call on Ireland internationals Ultan Dillane, Kieran Marmion, Tiernan O’Halloran and Finlay Bealham for Saturday’s Pro12 clash against Newport Gwent Dragons [KO 7.35pm, TG4].

The quartet have been released by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt ahead of the national team’s three-day training camp in Monaghan this week, which is expected to feature 21 or 22 players.

Dillane and Marmion have featured as replacements in Ireland’s opening Six Nations fixtures against Scotland and Italy, while O’Halloran and Bealham, who started Sunday’s 19-13 Pro12 win at the Cardiff Blues, are yet to be called upon by Schmidt for this season’s competition.

O’Halloran will be keen to impress when the reigning Pro12 champions play Welsh opposition for the third successive round this weekend, as Ireland fullback Rob Kearney sustained a bicep injury against the Azzurri and has emerged as a doubt for the visit of France on 25 February.

Connacht will be looking to build on last weekend’s victory in Cardiff which saw them move just three points behind the seventh-placed Blues on the table.

However, Lam may be without centre Stacey Ili for Saturday night’s game at the Sportsground as the New Zealander picked up a “minor” ankle injury against the Blues. Ili will be monitored by the province’s medical and fitness staff this week.

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Alan Waldron

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