©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Healy ruled out of America clash

Gordon D’Arcy, Rob Kearney and Sean O’Brien are all fit for selection against the US Eagles on Sunday.

IRELAND WILL LAUNCH their 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign on Sunday without Cian Healy as the Leinster prop continues to recover from an eye socket injury.

Team manager Paul McNaughton confirmed this morning that Healy has yet to resume contact work since damaging his left eye during Ireland’s 20-9 warm-up defeat against England, but stressed that the 23-year-old was never really expected to feature.

“Cian was relatively well flagged,” McNaughton told RTÉ’s Michael Corcoran this morning.

“When the first prognosis came out, he was due to be able to start contact after the US game. After a re-scan and a re-examination by our doctors, that’s just confirmed that prognosis.

We fully expect him to be fit for selection for the Australia game, but won’t be partaking in the US game.

Healy’s absence at loosehead opens the door for Ulster’s Tom Court to make his World Cup debut, while Tony Buckley can also deputise on both sides of the front row.

The remainder of Declan Kidney’s squad have all been passed as fully fit ahead of Sunday’s game in Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, with McNaughton shrugging off concerns about Gordon D’Arcy and Rob Kearney.

“Obviously we left Gordon behind and he came out three or four days later,” he said, “but his calf strain cleared up pretty quickly.

“He took a full part in training yesterday, which is only his second day in the country, and that went very well. Certainly, he’s fully fit and ready to go for selection, which is great.

“Rob Kearney was going under rehab in the last week before we left Ireland. He’s now running at full pace and is eligible for selection.

McNaughton also rubbished speculation that Sean O’Brien’s knee scare could in fact rule him out of the tournament until early October, forcing him to miss all of Ireland’s pool games.

“Sean O’Brien had a medial ligament injury. He’s come through contact for the last two days and he’s certainly eligible for selection as well.

“Sean was running before we left, he was running and turning within a day of when we left, so there was never ever any doubt that Sean would be available for the pool games.

If there was any cautious doubt, it was in relation to the first game, but he is eligible for selection now.

Kidney is expected to name his starting XV for Sunday’s game tomorrow morning.

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