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Ireland upbeat over O'Brien fitness

Ireland are confident that Sean O'Brien will return for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with England despite spending last week in hospital.

O'Brien picked up a foot infection that ruled him out of the 32-14 victory over Scotland - Peter O'Mahony deputised at openside - and required antibiotics to heal. The reigning European player of the year has lost weight, but team manager Mick Kearney has eased concerns over his participation at Twickenham.

"Sean was in hospital from Monday right through to the weekend and he's lost a couple of kilos, but he's in good form," Kearney said. "If he's training that is obviously a very good sign. The infection has cleared up so he's not on antibiotics. We're pretty sure that he'll be available for selection."

Captain Rory Best (ribs) and lock Donnacha Ryan (shoulder) will play a limited role in training this week and their fitness will also be monitored carefully.

"All the players are a bit sore. There was a light run out this afternoon and we'll build it up over the course of week," Kearney said.

"Most will take a full part in training except Donnacha, Rory and Sean who will be more curtailed, but we expected them to be involved."

The England game completes a run of four Six Nations matches in 22 days, a schedule made necessary by last month's postponed game against France, and Kearney admits the attrition rate has taken its toll.

"It's tough but we've been dealt those cards and we must manage them as best we can," he said.

"If we'd had that weeks' break it would have made it easier, but getting that win on Saturday has been hugely helpful in terms of the guys' form. We'll give it our best shot on Saturday."

Ireland name their team to face England at lunchtime on Tuesday.


From Belfast Telegraph