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Dublin: 1°C Thursday 6 May 2021

Who might Ireland call up to replace Jared Payne in their World Cup squad?

Andrew Trimble looks like the early favourite.

JOE SCHMIDT AND his Ireland coaching staff will have planned for all eventualities at the World Cup and it’s likely that they have a clear picture of who they will call up to replace the injured Jared Payne.

Ireland have opted to wait until after tomorrow’s clash with France to make a final decision, however, and it’s an entirely sensible idea.

Jared Payne The loss of Payne is a heavy blow to Ireland's World Cup hopes. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Schmidt and his staff have been relatively lucky on the injury front up until Payne’s foot fracture, but there may be further blows in what will be a hugely physically taxing contest against les Bleus.

Better not to rush into anything, as fresh injury concerns arising from tomorrow might change the picture of who Ireland need to add to their squad instead of Payne. Anything could happen – it might even be that one of Ireland’s two scrum-halves gets a knock and cover is needed there.

Right now, the strongest candidates for a call up to the squad appear to be Andrew Trimble and Fergus McFadden, especially with Keith Earls now set to remain predominantly a 13 for Ireland.

McFadden and Trimble both know Schmidt’s methods and demands well, spent the summer training with Ireland, have good form behind them, are experienced on the international stage and are popular with teammates.

Our call would be to bring in Trimble on the wing, with Earls moving into the midfield permanently.

Andrew Trimble

IrelandÕs Andrew Trimble

The Ulsterman was seen as the most unlucky player to miss out on the original 31-man squad and with Earls now far more likely to remain in the 13 shirt, Trimble may well get his shot in the end.

Powerful, intelligent, a proactive defender and an incisive attacking weapon.

Fergus McFadden

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Fergus McFadden Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Another man who Schmidt mentioned as desperately unlucky to miss out on travelling for the start of the tournament, McFadden has returned to Leinster and shown excellent form in his three Pro12 appearances. Covers the midfield, as well as the wing.

Possesses bravery, work rate, a thirst for collisions, aggression and pace.

Noel Reid

Noel Reid Reid was at Carton House all summer. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Reid is predominantly an inside centre, but as part of Ireland’s extended World Cup training squad during the summer, he comes into consideration if Schmidt opts to go for a direct midfield replacement for Payne.

Gordon D’Arcy might have been the stronger option in that sense, but has had a shoulder injury and a lack of training time since being left out of the 31-man group. D’Arcy is highly unlikely to be lacing up the boots for a final hurrah.

Felix Jones

Felix Jones scores a try The Munster fullback scored against Wales in August. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The third of the back three players Schmidt specifically mentioned as very close to having been in the original squad. Jones has played on the wing for Ireland but is predominantly a fullback. If there are further injuries against France, Jones’ hopes may well increase.

Ireland say Rob Kearney has fully recovered from a “glute strain,” but then Payne was deemed to be fully fit and available for selection as recently as Thursday evening.

Stuart McCloskey

Stuart McCloskey kicks McCloskey has shown excellent form for Ulster. Source: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO

The Ulsterman would be in the bolter category, even as an injury replacement, given his lack of a senior international cap. Hasn’t worked under Schmidt as much as other candidates, but offers a huge physical dimension in the midfield.

One for the future certainly but this World Cup may be slightly too soon.

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Murray Kinsella

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