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Dublin: 20 °C Tuesday 16 July, 2019
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Schmidt has no concerns over Sexton's fitness after thumb injury

The Ireland out-half is expected to be fit for the first World Cup warm-up against Italy next month.

JOE SCHMIDT IS confident Johnny Sexton will be fully fit ahead of Ireland’s first World Cup warm-up game against Italy despite spraining his thumb in training last week.

The Ireland out-half was wearing protective strapping on his left hand during this morning’s open session in Galway, and was limited to just running and kicking, but Schmidt has allayed concerns over Sexton’s fitness.

Johnny Sexton takes a selfie with fans after training Sexton during this morning's open session in Galway. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Sexton sustained the injury during Ireland’s first training block in Carton House, clipping his thumb off the heal of Dave Kilcoyne’s boot, but he is due to be back passing the ball next week when the squad move to Limerick for their next camp.

“He sprained it last week,” Schmidt explained pitchside at the Sportsground.

“It doesn’t actually stop him running so he’s still having to pay the price everyone else is paying. We would expect that he will be passing the ball around by the end of next week and he’ll be fully available, well before we play Italy anyway. It’s all good news on Johnny.

It was just one of those akward injuries, not even a contact session but when big men are moving at high speeds sometimes those small collisions can cause a little bit of discomfort, nothing major.

The Ireland squad completed their third week of preparation for Autumn’s global tournament in Japan with open training sessions for supporters at Connacht’s home ground on Friday.

After a weekend off, Ireland will spend next week in Munster’s high-performance facility as they move into the next phase of their World Cup preparations, ahead of the visit of Italy to the Aviva Stadium on 10 August.

Further warm-up games against England and Wales will follow, before the Pool A opener against Scotland on 22 September. 

Ulster’s Will Addison linked up with the squad this week after he returned to training from back surgery quicker than expected, meaning Schmidt is now tasked with whittling an extended 45-man panel down to 31 for the World Cup.

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Ryan Bailey

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