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Munster's Scannell set for first Ireland cap off bench against Scotland

Joe Schmidt names his first Ireland team of 2017 tomorrow afternoon.

NIALL SCANNELL IS set to feature in the Ireland matchday squad for the first time in Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Scotland.

The Munster hooker has been in consistently excellent form this season and may make his international debut at Murrayfield, with regular back-up hooker Sean Cronin missing through injury.

The Ireland team huddle before the game Ireland are set to name their team tomorrow. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

With Johnny Sexton also absent through injury, Paddy Jackson is set to wear Ireland’s 10 shirt for Joe Schmidt’s side in their tournament opener, partnering Conor Murray in the halfbacks.

Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose appear set to bring their Leinster centre combination into the Test match sphere, having impressed as a pairing at provincial level this season.

Andrew Trimble’s groin issue means the composition of Ireland’s back three is unclear, with the Ulsterman hoping to train fully tomorrow at Carton House. Simon Zebo and Keith Earls may end up occupying the wing slots if Trimble is not passed fit, with Rob Kearney the favourite to start at fullback.

Captain Rory Best is set to be in the middle of a settled front row also including Tahdg Furlong and Jack McGrath, although Cian Healy’s fine form is keeping the pressure on at loosehead.

Devin Toner will lead the Ireland lineout once again, with Donnacha Ryan, Iain Henderson and Ultan Dillane having been locked in a battle for the other second row slot.

The Munster man looks to have form on his side and that may see him edge back into the team at lock.

With Peter O’Mahony ruled out, it appears that the back row conundrum has been resolved for Schmidt, with CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip expected to start, while Josh van der Flier should provide support from the bench.

Meanwhile, the consistent form of Munster tighthead John Ryan may see him move onto the Ireland bench, while Schmidt has fine options in the back-up second row position.

Kieran Marmion and Luke McGrath have been in contention for the replacement scrum-half slot, although the Connacht man remains in fine form, while Munster men Ian Keatley and Rory Scannell are the options for Schmidt to back up starting out-half Jackson.

The fitness or otherwise of Trimble may decide the final spot in Ireland’s matchday squad, but the highly-experienced Tommy Bowe could make a Test comeback in the 23 shirt.

Possible Ireland team:

15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls/Andrew Trimble
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Simon Zebo
10. Paddy Jackson
9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Devin Toner
6. CJ Stander
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip

Replacements:

16. Niall Scannell
17. Cian Healy
18. John Ryan
19. Iain Henderson
20. Josh van der Flier
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Ian Keatley
23. Tommy Bowe

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Murray Kinsella

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