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04th Feb 2018

Ireland will be forced to make one change next week as Josh van der Flier injury confirmed

Patrick McCarry

Ireland will probably freshen up their starting XV with a few changes but one change looks set to be enforced.

Josh van der Flier limped out of his country’s 15-13 nail-biter against France, after twisting his knee, and he is likely to miss next Saturday’s visit of Italy to Dublin.

Following Ireland’s victory, Joe Schmidt said:

“I think at this stage, Josh will be unavailable next week. He will get a scan either tomorrow evening or Monday depending on when we can get the spot with us travelling tomorrow.

“It looks like it could be a medial ligament, just with the mechanism of the injury and that’s just my naive diagnosis.

“I don’t think there’s anyone else other than a lot of fatigue, a lot of bruised bodies and hopefully once we get through tomorrow we will have a better idea by Monday.”

Robbie Henshaw and Johnny Sexton – the drop goal matchwinner – both looked stiff in the closing stages but they, and others, will find that winning is a fine salve.

After praising van der Flier’s 35-minute shift, Schmidt went on to talk up James Ryan – impressive on his Six Nations debut – and several of the players that will be in contention for the Italy game.

“James Ryan, I felt he was immense,” Schmidt began. “He carried, he tackled, he worked hard, his lineout work was really efficient as well.

“Dan Leavy made an immediate impression when he came on. He got over the ball, he got off the line, he carried strongly and even in those last phases of play, I think Dan Leavy made a difference.

“That’s what you want from guys who do come off the bench. Jack McGrath carried strongly when he got on there as well and Dev [Toner] in those last few phases as well.

“I think probably one of the best cleanouts of the match was Fergus McFadden, it is something that he does really well.

That’s why you try to keep building a squad. One thing I felt was that the replacement front row did a great job, they had France in a lot of trouble. Twice on the far side of the pitch they scrummed right over them and unfortunately we didn’t get any decisions there, but it was a fantastic effort.”

If Ireland are to cop an injury or two during this championship, the back row seems the deepest of all units. Leavy is favourite to come in at openside but Jordi Murphy will challenge for the role too.

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