/ Rugby

Jonathan Sexton trains with Ireland squad as he battles to be fit for Italy game

Updated: Tuesday, 04 Mar 2014 17:38 | Comments

Jonathan Sexton looks set to be available
Jonathan Sexton looks set to be available

Jonathan Sexton trained today with no ill-effects ahead of Ireland's RBS 6 Nations match with Italy on Saturday.

Sexton will be assessed again tomorrow and will train again on Thursday with tackling and grappling to assess his fitness over a concern on a thumb ligament problem.

Training took place at Carton House in a limited capacity as he alternated with Paddy Jackson in practice.

The management team are increasingly confident that he will be available for selection.

Ireland assistant coach John Plumtree revealed the latest scans on Sexton's thumb problem show no lasting damage from the injury sustained in Ireland's 13-10 defeat to England at Twickenham, despite Racing Metro's prediction last week that the former Leinster star could miss up to six weeks.

"Jonny trained today and he did really well," said Plumtree.

"He was sort of in and out with Paddy [Jackson] and Mads [Ian Madigan], so we'll make that final call on Thursday but he didn't look in too much discomfort at all."

Sexton's fitness will prove a moot point if head coach Joe Schmidt chooses to rest him in any case, with one eye on a potential title-decider in France on Saturday, March 15.

Schmidt has already admitted he could opt to give several regulars a breather against the Azzurri, with flanker Peter O'Mahony falling into the same category.

O'Mahony trained on Tuesday as he continues his recovery from hamstring trouble suffered against England.

The Munster captain is another who will be reassessed on Thursday.

Plumtree conceded the call on Sexton will come down to Thursday's session.

"I think he'll be pretty good for the weekend, just as long as Joe [Schmidt] makes that call on Thursday, and I think that's positive news," said Plumtree.

"It looks like the scan is clear, so again it's just how that thumb feels.

"I guess there are certain aspects of the game, like tackling and grappling that will give it a true test.

Live television coverage of the RBS 6 Nations from 13:30 on Saturday 8 March (Ireland v Italy and Scotland v France) on RTÉ Two and RTE.ie (Ireland only).

Live radio coverage of Ireland v Italy on Saturday Sport (14:00) on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).

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