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Dublin: 11 °C Monday 26 August, 2019
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Injury doubt Heaslip on track to feature for Ireland against Italy

The 31-year-old number eight is recovering from a shoulder injury.

Image: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

IRELAND REMAIN HOPEFUL that number eight Jamie Heaslip will be fit to play against Italy in the Six Nations on Saturday.

The Leinster back row has been rehabilitating a shoulder injury since the province’s victory over Ulster on 3 January.

Heaslip did play in the Champions Cup clashes against Castres and Wasps later in the month, although he was replaced early in the latter fixture. Yesterday’s injury update from Ireland camp was that Heaslip was a “small doubt” to face the Italians.

However, it is believed that the 31-year-old is on track to recover and come into the selection mix for the trip to Rome, having trained with the rest Joe Schmidt’s squad today at Carton House.

Ireland’s on-pitch session had been scheduled for this morning, but overnight frost meant the surface of their training pitch was too hard. That resulted in the session being delayed until 14.00 this afternoon.

Heaslip undertook the usual testing returning players are required to perform, before joining in with Schmidt’s squad for the remainder of the session. It is hoped that Heaslip reports no ill effects tomorrow, which is a rest day for the Ireland players.

The usual requirement for injury doubts in Schmidt’s camp is training on the Tuesday before a game, something forwards coach Simon Easterby highlighted today.

“A lot of players get bumps on [any given] weekend. If we’ve got a back-to-back game, next week for example, there might be a couple of bumps after Rome and players might not train until the Tuesday before the French game.

Jamie Heaslip Heaslip ran through a series of tests at Ireland training. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“So it’s not unusual. You have to adapt and be able to give players the opportunity without it affecting the preparation. That’s no different week in, week out.”

Ireland name their team to face Italy at midday on Thursday, meaning we will have to wait for confirmation that Heaslip has recovered, but the signs for now are cautiously positive and the number eight’s involvement would be extremely welcome.

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Murray Kinsella

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