Injury boosts for Ireland
Ireland were finally offered some respite from their injury crisis with the expectation that Brian O'Driscoll and Sean O'Brien will be fit to face Scotland.
The Leinster pair sustained ankle and hamstring injuries in the 12-6 RBS 6 Nations defeat to England, but have returned to full training and should participate at Murrayfield on Sunday.
Uncapped Ulster centre Luke Marshall is available to replace the injured Gordon D'Arcy after recovering from the dead leg incurred on provincial duty on Friday night, but the prognosis over Donnacha Ryan is less clear cut after the Munster lock, who is nursing a back spasm, took only a limited part in training on Tuesday.
"Brian and Sean trained this morning and are expected to be fully involved for the rest of the week," said team manager Mick Kearney.
"Donnacha continues to recover from a back spasm. He took part in some of the session today and we're continuing to monitor his rehab.
"Luke Marshall has recovered really well from his dead leg and trained fully this morning. There are no concerns about him."
D'Arcy and Simon Zebo have been ruled out for the rest of the Six Nations, Mike McCarthy appears to have endured a similar fate because of knee problem, while Jonathan Sexton will be absent against Scotland and possibly France a fortnight later.
Paul O'Connell, Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe have been missing all championship, while Cian Healy has been suspended for three weeks for stamping on England's Dan Cole.
The Leinster prop is not due to return until the final match against Italy on March 16, but Ireland are mulling over an appeal given that he is effectively serving a four-week ban.
"My own view is that there was a certain degree of ambiguity in the hearing's decision," Kearney said. "While Cian was suspended for three weeks, he was ruled out of rugby for four weeks. That's an area we'd like clarity on. But unless we feel we have very good grounds for appeal, we won't appeal it."