Johnny Sexton and Joey Carbery on track to face France

Johnny Sexton and Joey Carbery on track to face France

Jonathan Sexton and Joey Carbery are both on track to feature for Ireland against France in round four of the Six Nations on Saturday week.

Sexton and Carbery trained separately from the national squad at Queen's University Belfast on Friday afternoon but head coach Schmidt revealed afterwards that the out-halves are on course to make the visit of the French to Dublin.

The Kiwi did not reveal if there was any fitness issue with Sexton. It seems the number of late hits suffered so far in the tournament have, as much as anything, resulted in the reduced workload. There was certainly no suggestion of any injury.

Carbery has been struggling with a hamstring which kept him out of the last game, the bonus-point win away to Italy, and which some had speculated could end his tournament. So his update will be music to the ears of Ireland and Munster fans alike.

"They're both on track,” said Schmidt. “Johnny is certainly ahead of Joey. Johnny is going to be fine, he'll train next week. We're hoping that Joey will be fit to train, potentially on Wednesday. If he can train Wednesday and do Friday then that's sufficient lead-in that he can be in contention.

“So we'll just have to wait and see, more so on Joey, but we'd be very confident about Johnny."

The reduced workload for both men left Jack Carty, who came off the bench late in Rome for his senior debut, as the only available ten to train.

Robbie Henshaw and Dan Leavy both trained earlier in the day with Schmidt revealing that the Leinster pair are “on a slightly different programme”. The plan for both is that they return to the paddock midweek, depending on how their bodies react to this latest strain.

Leavy has not played yet in this Six Nations with a calf injury but his re-appearance here suggests a role is certainly within the realms of possibility, although he hasn't played a game of rugby since Leinster's defeat of Connacht on December 22.

Garry Ringrose, Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Beirne were other faces among the 21 senior players who engaged in a full-on 68-minute run through against their U20 counterparts, but there was no sign of Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath or Sean O'Brien.

On the last of those, Schmidt said that it was a decision based on the volume of work being done over their three-day stay in Belfast, the idea seemingly that they did not want the flanker to overdo it having only recently returned from injury,

"He's been in with us a lot, where we try to have a reasonably tight number at camp with us. With Seán, he was back with Leinster doing a conditioning week and he'll be back with us on Tuesday."

CJ Stander was also rated as good to go, despite “a poke in the eye”.

Other squad members are on provincial duties this weekend: Adam Byrne with Leinster, John Ryan from the bench with Munster, John Cooney and Jordi Murphy from the off with Ulster and Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux in Connacht's second row.

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