Schmidt to call on McCloskey for future Ireland tests
Joe Schmidt has confirmed that he will introduce fresh faces into his Ireland side before the end of the Six Nations, but he is unlikely to do so for next weekend's trip to Twickenham.
With just one point after two games, Schmidt has come under pressure to blood some of the younger players like Ulsterman Stuart McCloskey, Josh van der Flier and Ultan Dillane and they are now almost certain to make their international debuts in the coming weeks.
All three players were involved in yesterday's open training session in Mullingar, which Jonathan Sexton limped out of after he went over on his ankle.
Schmidt later allayed fears that Sexton was a doubt to face England next Saturday but the news was not so positive for Sean O'Brien (hamstring), Dave Kearney (shoulder) and Mike McCarthy (concussion).
The trio have been ruled out of the reminder of the tournament, while McCarthy's head injury looks certain to have ended his season as he faces a spell out to "freshen himself up".
"I think you will see guys over the next three games that you haven't seen in the tournament so far," Schmidt said. "I don't know which of the games or which number of the games but I think the last two Six Nations we have been hanging in tooth and nail fighting for the wins that we needed.
"We haven't been in this position where mathematically we are in with a chance but realistically the chance is a long shot where we actually get a window of opportunity to blood a few new guys and chase results at the same time.
"I don't think it is going to change our outlook in what we want to achieve but it is going to give us an opportunity to look at a few guys like the big fella (McCloskey) there and a few others.
"He is actually bigger than all our loose forwards. He is sizeable and he has been working on a few things even post-training with us and we are seeing some good reward from that."
Sexton rolled his ankle in the early part of yesterday's training in front of 3,200 supporters and required medical attention before eventually sitting out.
Schmidt, however, insisted that the out-half would be fit enough to train fully on Monday when the squad return to their Carton House base.
"He just rolled his ankle. He could have trained on, but we sent him to the side," Schmidt explained. "He rolled it, then did all the individual stuff in the unit split, but in the end most of what we were going to do is broken-play work, so we didn't really need him in there and we had 18 players from the U-20s.
"He will be fit to play on Monday. The problem with rolling your ankle is if you do train on it you just get more inflammation.
"The sooner you stop the inflammation, in 48 hours you're up and running. I wouldn't be concerned at all."
McCarthy will be sidelined for the rest of the season after being concussed in the 10-9 defeat by France last Saturday.
"Mike McCarthy has seen a specialist and he's going to effectively re-condition himself, freshen himself up to kick-start next season now," Schmidt added.
"That's the latest word. Maybe that's not the definitive word. I think just for him it's an opportunity to freshen himself up a little bit and that will give him a good entry point to next season.
"Sean is likely to miss the rest of the Six Nations, as is Dave Kearney, but we'll continue to monitor those guys and see how they go."