Ulster star John Cooney cut from Ireland's World Cup squad ahead of England warm-up game
Ulster's John Cooney is one of three players to be cut from the Ireland squad ahead of the World Cup.
Finlay Bealham and Mike Haley have also returned their provinces as the squad jet off to their warm-weather training camp in Portugal.
However, it is Cooney's departure that comes as the biggest shock, especially considering the ankle injury sustained by Joey Carbery in the win over Italy last weekend.
Carbery will remain with the squad and is expected to be available to return within six weeks, potentially in time for Ireland's World Cup opener against Scotland on September 22.
Cooney's ability to cover at fly-half as well as his primary position at scrum-half had been expected to work in his favour when the numbers are finally crunched for Schmidt's 31-man World Cup panel.
The 29-year-old was crowned Ulster's player of the season for the 17/18 campaign after moving north from Connacht. Increased Ireland opportunities followed as he made four, albeit short, appearances at this year's Six Nations. Cooney was not included in the squad for last weekend's game against Italy.
The good news from the latest Ireland squad update is that Rob Herring's back spasm, which brought an early end to his involvement at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, is fully recovered while Devin Toner’s ankle knock has not presented any further issues.
Ireland’s next warm-up fixture is against England in Twickenham on Saturday, August 24.
Ultan Dillane and Rory Scannell were both allowed to return to their provinces last week.
The seven Ulster players remaining in the now 40-man squad are Rory Best, Rob Herring, Iain Henderson, Jack McGrath, Jordi Murphy, Jacob Stockdale and Will Addison.
Updated Ireland squad
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 117 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster) 6 caps
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 14 caps
Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 68 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 33 caps
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 89 caps
Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 45 caps
Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 8 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 29 caps
Jean Kleyn (Munster) 1 cap
Jack McGrath (St Marys College/Ulster) 55 caps
Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 28 caps
Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster) 13 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 57 caps
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 15 caps
Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 22 caps
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps
John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 19 caps
Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 15 caps
CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 31 caps
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 65 caps
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps
Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) 3 caps
Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 17 caps
Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 19 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 4 caps
Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 13 caps
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 77 caps
Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 6 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 37 caps
Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 18 caps
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 90 caps
Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 14 caps
Kieran Marmion (Galwegians/Connacht) 26 caps
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 11 caps
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 72 caps
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 21 caps
Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 83 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 19 caps
Belfast Telegraph Digital