Schmidt quietly confident as Ireland centre Payne ditches crutches

‘He’s able to walk around freely now on it and jog around,’ said of his first-choice 13.

Murray Kinsella reports from Guildford

JOE SCHMIDT SAYS Ireland are quietly confident that Jared Payne will be in a position to feature for Ireland in next weekend’s World Cup clash with France.

IrelandÕs  Jared Payne Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The outside centre misses out on Sunday’s meeting with Italy due to a foot injury, having spent a portion of this week using crutches to avoid putting weight on what Ireland have described as a “bruised foot.”

Payne is now back jogging, and the hope is that he heals swiftly in order to train fully next week. Keith Earls starts at 13 in his absence this weekend, but Payne’s defensive qualities could be essential against les Bleus in Cardiff.

“He’s progressing really well,” said Schmidt in Guildford today. “There was a scan as a precaution to make sure there was nothing structural awry. He’s got bruising and that’s it, it’s just inflammation and discomfort that is getting better by the day.

He’s able to walk around freely now on it and jog around, but it’s just a frustration that he hasn’t been able to prepare himself and he would probably not be fit by Sunday anyway, so there’s not a point in trying to push him through too quickly.

Will he be fit to play France?

“We’d be quietly confident at the moment,” said Schmidt. “We’d be expecting that he’d be able to train at least individually on Tuesday and he’d be able to train with the team on Wednesday.”

With Robbie Henshaw having recovered from his hamstring strain, fullback Rob Kearney is the other main injury concern in Joe Schmidt’s 31-man World Cup squad at present.

The Leinster man was left out this weekend, with Simon Zebo retained at 15, but Schmidt says Kearney is looking good for the France clash.

Rob Kearney, Jonathan Sexton and Paul O'Connell Rob Kearney was at Ireland training today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Rob’s probably fit to play but he wasn’t fit to play at the start of the week,” said Schmidt. “He trained pretty much fully today, so there’s no real doubts for him next week.

“I think one of the difficulties is trying to make an assessment when you’re waiting for a soft tissue injury to heal and you don’t know how long that’s going to be, trying to get a bit of clarity today for training.

“We effectively confirmed the team this morning before training.”

Another shot for Bowe and more talking points from Ireland’s XV for Italy

Schmidt pairs Henshaw and Earls in midfield for World Cup clash with Italy

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Murray Kinsella

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