Ireland have confirmed a 34-man training squad for the forthcoming Six Nations clash against England on 27 February. The reigning champions travel to Twickenham with their hopes of securing a third straight title in tatters, courtesy of a draw against Wales and defeat to France in their opening two fixtures.
That dour but brutal 10-9 loss came at a significant cost, with head coach Joe Schmidt now likely to be without the trio of Dave Kearney, Sean O'Brien and Mike McCarthy for the remainder of the 2016 tournament as a result of injuries picked up at the Stade de France. Kearney sustained a shoulder problem, while flanker O'Brien suffered a grade-two hamstring tear. Lock McCarthy, meanwhile, looks set to be sidelined for the rest of the 2015/16 season due to concussion.
In order to compensate for the loss of that trio, Ireland have called up Spanish-born Leinster back-row Jordi Murphy and Munster's Dave Foley. Ulster wing Craig Gilroy is also included, while experienced props Mike Ross and Cian Healy both return after injury. An official release from the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) further confirmed that Tadgh Furlong and Rob Herring will remain with their respective provinces in order to recover from thigh muscle injuries.
As for England, who, like France, can still win the grand slam after victories over Scotland and Italy, Eddie Jones has drafted in Luther Burrell ahead of his first home match in charge. The powerful Northampton centre was arguably the most controversial omission from Stuart Lancaster's squad for the 2015 World Cup and comes in as a replacement for Ollie Devoto, who was concussed during Bath's 24-18 defeat to Wasps at The Rec. Sale number eight Josh Beaumont could be a long-term absentee after dislocating his shoulder against Worcester.
Ireland's 34-man training squad ahead of England clash
Forwards: Finlay Bealham, Rory Best (c), Sean Cronin, Ultan Dillane, David Foley, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Tommy O'Donnell, Mike Ross, Rhys Ruddock, Donnacha Ryan, CJ Stander, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier, Nathan White.
Backs: Keith Earls, Craig Gilroy, Robbie Henshaw, Patrick Jackson, Rob Kearney, Ian Madigan, Kieran Marmion, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Fergus McFadden, Conor Murray, Jared Payne, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Andrew Trimble, Simon Zebo.