Ireland hope for more from Murray and Sexton, as well as positive injury news

CJ Stander, Devin Toner and Keith Earls are all doubts for the Scotland clash.

IRELAND HAVE A number of injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Scotland in Edinburgh.

Joe Schmidt’s side opened their championship campaign with a comprehensive 32-20 defeat at home to England on Saturday, relinquishing their Grand Slam crown at the first hurdle.

Ireland’s CJ Stander leaves the field injured Stander leaves the field with a swollen face. Inpho / Billy Stickland Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

Ireland took a physical battering in the game, leaving CJ Stander, Devin Toner and Keith Earls as injury doubts.

Stander appears the most concerning having suffered suspected fractures in his cheek and eye socket early in the first half of the defeat to England, despite which he played on until late the 65th minute.

The Munster man underwent scans on his face post-match at the Aviva Stadium but the IRFU have not yet revealed the results.

Toner damaged his ankle when landing from a restart reception, while Earls suffered a hip pointer [a bruise on the hip bone] before being withdrawn at half-time.

There are some concerns that centre Garry Ringrose may have suffered an injury too, as he was replaced with five minutes remaining.

“The first thing is I want to see as many of them glued together as possible,” said Schmidt of his priorities early this week.

“We’ve obviously got a concern with CJ. I don’t think Keith Earls will do much, certainly in the first part of the week, Dev [Toner] as well.

“With a game as attritional as that one, you’ve really got to allow sufficient recovery time.

Keith Earls receives treatment Earls was forced off at half-time. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“As much as anything, it is about getting our confidence back, getting mentally re-aligned, so that we can go out and deliver in a lot more positive manner, in a physically confrontational manner.”

The IRFU are due to release an injury update this afternoon as their training week kicks into gear at their Carton House base.

Schmidt will be hoping for fit players but he also needs to get a better performance from his halfbacks this weekend as they face a Scotland team who beat Italy last weekend.

Scrum-half Murray was uncharacteristically off-key against England and hasn’t hit his best form since returning from a long-term neck/shoulder issue.

Sexton was also below his best as the entire Ireland team struggled to impose themselves.

“Johnny hasn’t played since, well, he hasn’t played this calendar year so I do think there is always a need to get a little bit of rhythm into your game,” said Schmidt.

“Conor is still coming back from that long term injury.

“We had a few other guys that were coming back from not having too much time on the pitch, including Robbie [Henshaw].

“So from that perspective, I do think that we will improve.

“Let’s face it – we know we have to.”

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