Injured Leinster pair named in Ireland squad

Leinster pair Cian Healy and Sean O’Brien were named in the provisional 46-man Ireland Six Nations squad announced by coach Joe Schmidt on Thursday despite both suffering from injuries.

Flanker O’Brien, 27, has not played for his country since hurting his shoulder in Ireland’s 24-22 loss to New Zealand in November 2013, but is nearing fitness after undergoing two operations.

Prop Healy, also 27, suffered a severe hamstring tear last September, but both players are in contention to feature for the second-string Irish Wolfhounds against England Saxons on January 30.

“The coaching group have tried to strike a balance between some players getting the chance to fully complete their rehabilitation programmes, or get a bit of rest, and others getting the opportunity to push their claims with further game time in the Wolfhounds fixture,” Schmidt said in a statement released by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU).

Connacht prop Nathan White and Leinster back-rower Jack Conan were the only uncapped players called up by Schmidt.

New Zealand-born White, 33, was due to make his Ireland debut during the November internationals, only to rupture a tendon in his arm.

Racing Metro fly-half Johnny Sexton, Munster scrum-half Conor Murray and Connacht centre Robbie Henshaw were all included despite injury concerns.

Ireland will be missing a number of first-team players due to injury when they open the defence of their Six Nations title against Italy in Rome on February 7.

Chris Henry, Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding, Dan Tuohy and Damien Varley have all been left out of the squad, while Robin Copeland, Dave Kilcoyne, Luke Marshall, Donncha Ryan and Andrew Trimble have been placed on standby.

Ireland training squad for the 2015 Six Nations:

Forwards: Michael Bent (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster), Jack Conan, Sean Cronin (both Leinster), James Cronin (Munster), Robbie Diack (Ulster), Dave Foley (Munster), Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip (both Leinster), Iain Henderson, Rob Herring (both Ulster), Mike McCarthy, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Jordi Murphy, Sean O’Brien (all Leinster), Paul O’Connell, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony (all Munster), Mike Ross, Rhys Ruddock, Dominic Ryan, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner (all Leinster), Nathan White (Connacht)

Backs: Isaac Boss (Leinster), Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave (both Ulster), Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster), Keith Earls (Munster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Craig Gilroy (Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Felix Jones (Munster), Dave Kearney, Rob Kearney (both Leinster), Ian Keatley (Munster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Fergus McFadden (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Jared Payne (Ulster), Eoin Reddan, Noel Reid (both Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro/FRA), Simon Zebo (Munster)

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