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Kearney and O'Mahony must prove fitness ahead of Ireland's Grand finale

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Peter O'Mahony and Rob Kearney yesterday sat out Ireland's penultimate full training session before Saturday's Grand Slam clash with England.

Normally, failure to tog out on the Tuesday before an international would result in a player missing out at the weekend but Joe Schmidt may loosen his policy given the stage of the tournament and the stakes this weekend.

Last week, Johnny Sexton took a limited part in the session due to a glute issue but was selected in the team that beat Scotland, and senior men O'Mahony and Kearney are likely to be given the same latitude at the end of an attritional campaign.

Still, it is a concern for Joe Schmidt as he prepares to name his team for the Twickenham clash tomorrow.

O'Mahony was replaced after hurting his leg in a ruck early in the first half against Scotland, while Kearney played 75 minutes before coming off for Jordan Larmour due to an ankle problem.

Assistant coach Richie Murphy said that all 23 players who featured against Scotland are fit and available, dismissing concerns over Cian Healy's injury, but the duo will have to prove their fitness tomorrow morning.

"Peter is OK, everyone who played in the game on Saturday will be fit and ready to play this weekend. He is the same as Rob Kearney," Murphy said.

"Rob is fine, it's just a case of managing his load.

"Johnny trained fully this morning and is fine. We were managing him a little bit through last week but he has come through that process."

Jordi Murphy would be the likely replacement for O'Mahony if he failed to make it after replacing the Munster skipper to good effect last weekend, while Jordan Larmour is next in line at full-back.

Otherwise, Schmidt is unlikely to deviate too much from the starting XV that beat Scotland.

He may look to freshen up his pack by bringing Iain Henderson into the team, while Jack McGrath could rotate in for Healy who took on a big toll in last week's game.

Murphy believes confidence levels are high ahead of the team's biggest test yet.

"All the guys are confident with how we have planned things out, understanding their different roles within that," he said.

"When we look through the game we will see a lot of opportunities that we did not take, whether we didn't throw a pass, or different little things we could have done better."

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