By Brendan O'Brien
Encouraging news from Cardiff.
Jonathan Sexton trained with the rest of Joe Schmidt's squad on Wednesday, increasing hopes that the Leinster player will be fit enough to start Ireland's World Cup quarter-final against Argentina on Sunday.
Johnny Sexton pictured at training in Cardiff this afternoon.
The out-half reportedly suffered an adductor muscle injury in his kicking leg against France last weekend, though initial fears that he would miss the rest of the tournament were calmed by a better than expected diagnosis.
With Paul O’Connell and Peter O’Mahony’s tournaments being ended by injury in the same game, and Sean O’Brien earning a one-match suspension, Ireland badly need every remaining man ready and available to serve the cause against the South Americans.
"Johnny did about 3.5km running, that's a positive," said assistant coach Greg Feek on Wednesday afternoon. "We're quietly confident, we'll see how he goes on Friday."
Feek added that the management were "looking after" their "battered" star ten, but accepted that the player will most likely have to train on Friday if he is to feature.
Head coach Schmidt has in the past instigated a rule whereby players hoping to put their hands up for selection needed to train fully all week, but the Kiwi is a pragmatist too and he has relaxed that regulation for key men in the past.
“When you start to accumulate a number of games in a row … in the Six Nations you usually get two and a week off, in November you get three, but you can still mix it around,” Feek started to explain.
“But here, it’s do or die type stuff, so there might be some allowances around a few things, especially with our medical staff and our S&C. They've a good feel on things as well.”
Feek also stated that the Ireland management would wait to see the written verdict on O’Brien’s one-match ban before deciding whether they would appeal. It would seem unlikely given his ill-thought strike on Pascal Pape last weekend.