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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Cian Tracey Twitter Email

Andy Farrell likely to stick with winning formula but triple injury blow dents squad depth for French test

Injury blow: Cian Healy has a hamstring problem.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell’s hand has been significantly weakened for Saturday’s crunch Six Nations clash with France at the Aviva Stadium.

Although they had hoped to have recovered in time for this weekend, key players Tadhg Furlong and Jamison Gibson-Park have been ruled out through injury, as has back-up prop Cian Healy.

The trio missed last weekend’s win over Wales, and while each of their replacements played well, Farrell was hoping to have a full deck to pick from ahead of the visit of the Grand Slam champions.

As such, the Ireland boss may now be inclined to stick with the same team that started the victory in Cardiff.

Johnny Sexton was due to complete the HIA (head injury assessment) process yesterday, and hooker Rónan Kelleher is set to return to training this week.

Furlong’s injury-hit season continues thanks to his troublesome calf, with Ireland mindful of not taking any risks with him.

Fresh after impressing on his first Six Nations start, Finlay Bealham is likely to continue at tighthead.

Gibson-Park misses out with a hamstring problem, and considering the scrum-half missed the start of Leinster’s season with a similar injury, Farrell, who may look to Conor Murray again, will be concerned.

Like Gibson-Park, Healy has a hamstring injury, and is unavailable for selection.

Despite the call-up of uncapped Leinster loosehead Michael Milne, Dave Kilcoyne is expected to keep his place amongst the replacements, providing back-up to Andrew Porter.

Robbie Henshaw (wrist) has not been deemed fit enough to be added to the squad, which now includes Milne, as well as Connacht scrum-half Caolin Blade. Uncapped front-row duo Roman Salanoa and Tom Stewart, who joined the squad last week, have been retained.

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