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Ireland may be forced into late squad changes as injury concerns grow

There are doubts over the availability of Johnny Sexton, Rob Kearney and Dave Kearney for the tour to South Africa.

JOE SCHMIDT MAY be forced to announce late changes to his 32-man squad to travel to South Africa as the injury concerns grow for Ireland.

With Luke Fitzgerald having been ruled out of the trip to face the Springboks across three Tests, Connacht’s in-form wing Matt Healy is the favourite to be added to Ireland’s touring party.

Joe Schmidt Schmidt will finalise his touring party for South Africa on Thursday afternoon. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

However, the possible addition of the 27-year-old may not be the only change Schmidt confirms after lunchtime on Thursday.

A bruising training session on Wednesday has left a number of Ireland players with injury worries.

Wing Dave Kearney is among those believed to have sustained a late injury concern and he could be replaced by Ulster’s Craig Gilroy if Ireland’s medical team inform Schmidt that the Leinster man is unavailable for the trip to South Africa.

Fullback Rob Kearney is a further worry for Ireland after the contact session on Wednesday, with Connacht’s Tiernan O’Halloran having been called into camp as precautionary cover.

Most pressingly of all, out-half Johnny Sexton sustained a shoulder injury in last weekend’s Guinness Pro12 final defeat to Connacht and Schmidt may be facing the prospect of visiting South Africa without his key man.

If Sexton is ruled out of Ireland’s tour, the Bordeaux-bound Ian Madigan would be expected to replace him.

Schmidt is set to confirm his finalised Ireland squad to travel to South Africa at 1.10pm on Thursday afternoon.

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