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Johnny Sexton likely to sit out Italy clash after Joey Carbery call-up

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton. Photo: Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Rúaidhrí O'ConnorIndependent.ie

Johnny Sexton is likely to sit out Ireland’s Six Nations visit to Rome this weekend after Joey Carbery was called up as out-half cover.

The Ireland captain came off with a dead leg in the opening win over Wales, while his outing against France ended after 45 minutes due to a similar issue and he has yet to train fully with the squad.

Ross Byrne would be in line to start if Andy Farrell errs on the side of caution and gives Sexton the weekend off to get himself right for the final two rounds against Scotland and England.

Carbery is back after being dropped from the initial squad, but is still unlikely to feature against the Azzurri with Jack Crowley next in line for the bench spot.

Dan Sheehan and Cian Healy are back in contention after overcoming their hamstring issues, but Tadhg Furlong, Jamison Gibson-Park and Robbie Henshaw remain sidelined.

Joe McCarthy has joined Tadhg Beirne in being ruled out of the rest of the tournament, which means Kieran Treadwell and Scott Penny are called up to the squad.

Iain Henderson is expected to replace Beirne, with Ryan Baird covering second-row on the bench.

Keith Earls has been ruled out of the Italy clash with a calf issue.

Italy, meanwhile, are expected to start fit-again Paolo Garbisi who returned to club action last weekend.

Elsewhere, Ulster scrum-half John Cooney has not been selected by Scotland for their Six Nations clash with France on Sunday despite becoming eligible for the country this week.

The 32-year-old, who has been capped 11 times by Ireland, will become Scottish-qualified on Thursday under new World Rugby laws that allow players to change their international allegiance after a stand-down period of three years.

Despite Gregor Townsend revealing conversations had taken place over a potential switch prior to the Six Nations, Ulster coach Dan Soper has confirmed Cooney will be on the flight to South Africa for the province’s rearranged United Rugby Championship clash with the Sharks on Saturday.

Ireland squad (v Italy):B Aki, C Blade, R Byrne, J Carbery, C Casey, J Crowley, M Hansen, H Keenan, J Larmour, J Lowe, S McCloskey, C Murray, J O’Brien, J Osborne, G Ringrose, J Sexton, J Stockdale; R Baird, F Bealham, J Conan, G Coombes, C Doris, C Healy, I Henderson, R Herring, R Kelleher, D Kilcoyne, P O’Mahony, T O’Toole, S Penny, A Porter, C Prendergast, J Ryan, R Salanoa, D Sheehan, K Treadwell, J van der Flier.

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