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green giant Stuart Lancaster backs James Lowe to hit the ground running on his Ireland return

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Ireland and Leinster's James Lowe evades the tackle from Luke Morgan of Ospreys on his way to scoring his side's third try during their URC clash at the RDS Arena. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Ireland and Leinster's James Lowe evades the tackle from Luke Morgan of Ospreys on his way to scoring his side's third try during their URC clash at the RDS Arena. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Ireland and Leinster's James Lowe evades the tackle from Luke Morgan of Ospreys on his way to scoring his side's third try during their URC clash at the RDS Arena. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster has backed the fit-again James Lowe to force his way into contention for Ireland’s Six Nations clash against Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.

Having scored a try for Leinster on his return from a hamstring injury last weekend, Lowe has been added to the 38-man Ireland squad, along with a first call-up for his team-mate Jimmy O’Brien.

Lowe missed the first two rounds of the Six Nations, but his return comes as a boost to Andy Farrell, who has rewarded versatile Leinster back O’Brien for his strong displays this season.

After rediscovering his best form in November, Lowe became a key part of Ireland’s attacking game-plan, but the winger faces tough competition from Mack Hansen to regain his place in the team.

“Andy has got some pretty good options as far as I can see on the wing,” Lancaster said.

“But obviously, Lowey, to come back and provide the energy that he always does, but also show that he is back to full pace and power was pleasing.

“It’s great for him to be back in camp and get his opportunity to show what he can do. They have got a Sunday game, so he has a chance at the start of the week to create an impression and see how he goes. It’s exciting for Ireland.

“He (Lowe) was frustrated, there is no doubt about it. It just seemed to linger on and kept him out of playing key games for us as well.

“Ireland have some great options, Jordan (Larmour), (Robert) Baloucoune, Mack Hansen played well, (Andrew) Conway has been excellent.

“It will be interesting to see what they do, but he’ll definitely add to the mix, whichever way it goes.”

Farrell is also hoping his captain Johnny Sexton (hamstring) will be available to face Italy on Sunday.

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