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Ireland expect trio to be fit to play against France

Ireland expect Johnny Sexton, Rob Kearney and Conor Murray all to prove their fitness for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with France by training fully on Tuesday.

Sexton has missed Ireland's two RBS 6 Nations clashes after calf trouble, while Kearney has nursed a biceps injury and Murray sat out training on Friday with a slight adductor issue.

Ireland refused to give up hope that Sexton could have been fit to face first Scotland then Italy in the Six Nations' opening fortnight, and again find themselves in a similar situation.

But team manager Paul Dean tipped the British and Irish Lions fly-half to confirm his readiness for Saturday's Dublin clash with France, with flanker Peter O'Mahony also expected back after hamstring concerns.

"Everybody looks good to fully train tomorrow," said Ireland team manager Dean.

"Johnny Sexton will play a part in training today, but will fully train tomorrow. Hopefully when he comes through that, he'll be fine for the weekend.

"Rob Kearney continues to make progress. He'll do some contact work today and he'll fully train tomorrow.

"If you talk to Johnny and Rob they'll both say that they're 100 per cent fit and ready to go, so we just need the medics to pass them and they need to prove to us that they are.

"Conor Murray's workload was managed in Monaghan last week. It was a difficult week for the players last week, but I'm happy to report that the outlook is positive.

"Conor was tight, so we thought it prudent to call up Kieran Marmion. He trained with Connacht on Thursday, with us on Friday and he was rested at the weekend."

Josh van der Flier could miss the rest of the Six Nations after suffering a shoulder injury, though the Leinster flanker's absence should be offset by Munster back-rower O'Mahony's return to fitness.

Reports in France claim Ian Madigan will seek to cut his stay in Bordeaux short - but in a bid to join an Aviva Premiership club rather than return to Ireland.

Ireland have again overlooked the former Leinster fly-half for their squad to prepare to face France, continuing their policy of preferring to select home-based stars.

Team manager Dean admitted his personal wish would be for Madigan to return to one of the Irish provinces should he opt out of his Bordeaux deal.

"I'd personally love to see him back in Ireland," said Dean.

"We'd be able to invite him to the sessions, keep an eye on him and watch his progress. It's difficult when you're abroad, as we all know.

"I think the Premiership, he'd be better off coming home in my book, let's say."

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