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Ireland injury concerns ease ahead of Schmidt's delayed arrival in Chicago

The Ireland head coach has remained in Ireland to work with his senior players in the early part of this week.

Murray Kinsella reports from Chicago

IRELAND SAY THEY expect all 42 of the players they named for the November Tests to be available in the coming weeks, despite a handful of injury scares last weekend.

Leinster’s Rob Kearney suffered a shoulder issue in his province’s win away to Benetton in the Pro14, while Munster captain Peter O’Mahony also sustained a shoulder injury late on in his team’s dramatic victory over Glasgow.

Neither Kearney or O’Mahony are part of the 26-man Ireland squad that arrived in Chicago yesterday ahead of Saturday’s clash with Italy.

Rob Kearney and Peter O'Mahony Rob Kearney and Peter O'Mahony picked up knocks last weekend. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The senior pair have instead remained in Ireland with head coach Joe Schmidt for a three-day camp at Carton House, with Schmidt set to fly out to Chicago when that camp breaks up on Wednesday afternoon.

Speaking at Ireland’s team hotel in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon local time, assistant coach Simon Easterby indicated that the outlook for Kearney and others ahead of the Tests against Argentina and New Zealand next month is good.

“He [Kearney] will be working this week with Colm Fuller [Ireland's lead physiotherapist], who stayed back,” said Easterby.

“Any other guys who are needing treatment will be working with him and then when we return from here, with the flight involved and potentially a few bumps and bruises from this game this weekend, we’ll assess everything on Sunday evening and make a call on next week.

“As far as we’re concerned at the moment, everyone that’s named in that squad still has the potential to play throughout the November Series.”

Ireland’s training week got underway in Chicago today with a light walk-through session without head coach Schmidt.

The Ireland boss has remained at home to work with the group of players who were not included in the 26-man travelling party for Chicago, but will join the squad on Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

With the big Tests against Argentina and the All Blacks to come next month in Dublin, Schmidt is currently working with a group of senior players including Johnny Sexton, Rory Best and Robbie Henshaw.

Joe Schmidt during the warm up Schmidt is working with a group of senior players at home. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“They’ve been in Carton House for a couple of days working away and some have had an opportunity to recover from a few bumps,” said Easterby. “Others are working hard, particularly hard in a conditioning sense.

“I guess it’s a very small window, which you don’t get many of during a season, to get some work into some players and also, on the other side, it gives us an opportunity to take some less experienced players away and try to build as much depth and as many experiences as we can into a wider group.”

Despite the slightly unusual build-up to this Test caused by the travel on Monday and the necessity of the players left at home continuing to work towards the Argentina and All Blacks fixtures with Schmidt, Ireland hope to see several of their less experienced players put their hands up on Saturday against Italy.

“Looking at the four games that we’ve got and the opportunities to build a bit of depth, there aren’t that many windows between now and the World Cup,” said Easterby.

“I think that’s been happening over a period of time but coming away from home with a group with a backbone of experience but also a lot of guys with single figure caps, we’ll find out a bit more about them.

“We’ll find out how they respond in a different environment and looking a little bit medium-to-long term, towards the back end of next year when we’ll be in the World Cup, it allows us to spend a bit of time with players that feel they deserve the opportunity.

“Some of their form for their provinces and previous work they’ve done with us already means they deserve an opportunity to step up this week and build through what’s going to be a really tough couple of weeks for us.”

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Murray Kinsella

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