Bowe and Trimble return to boost Ireland’s hopes

A LONG week lies ahead before Sunday’s Six Nations game in Murrayfield but it has started well for Ireland who welcomed a number of injured stars back to the fold yesterday just as Scotland were reporting significant casualties of their own.

As expected, Tommy Bowe returns to international duty having played 80 minutes for the Ospreys in their victory over Treviso last weekend.

The wing missed both the Italy and France games as a result of a knee injury picked up late last year.

Also back in the picture is Ulster’s Andrew Trimble who is, like Bowe, hoping to see his first Six Nations action of the season this weekend having shaken off the last effects of a hand injury.

Bowe and Trimble are among a total of eight players called up by Kidney yesterday. Among them are two other backs, Connacht’s Gavin Duffy and Munster’s Denis Hurley, both of whom also featured for their provinces at the weekend.

Second rows Mick O’Driscoll and Donnacha Ryan have also been called up, as have Tony Buckley, who played for his soon-to-be former province after returning from a hip injury, and back row Rhys Ruddock.

One name conspicuously missing from yesterday’s list was that of Stephen Ferris. The Ulster flanker is due to have another scan on his injured knee this Friday but all the indications are that he will now miss out on the entire Six Nations campaign.

His international colleagues gathered at their Dublin base yesterday and will go about their first training session today boosted by the news that Andy Robinson’s preparations have been affected by a number of fitness issues.

Definitely out of contention this Sunday are Northampton centre Joe Ansbro and Stade Francais full-back Hugo Southwell, both of whom started the games against France and Wales, as well as Toulon number 15 Rory Lamont, who has yet to feature in the tournament.

Ansbro suffered concussion in his club’s loss to Bath at the weekend, Southwell has not recovered from the facial injury he suffered in the defeat to Wales while Lamont sustained a leg injury in his side’s loss against Agen. The Scots have also served notice that a number of forwards — Glasgow Warriors duo Jon Welsh (ribs) and Robert Harley (hip), Edinburgh flanker Ross Rennie (toe) and Leinster lock Nathan Hines (knee) — required medical attention yesterday and did not train.

Completing the casualty list are Richie Vernon, the Glasgow Warriors number eight who sustained a blow to his calf in the international against Wales and his club-mate, hooker Dougie Hall, who missed the Welsh match on account of a shoulder problem. “We have made the decision now that all three of our injured backs will miss this weekend’s international so that brings clarity to our preparations,” said Robinson. “We wish all of them a speedy recovery. Our medical staff will continue to treat and monitor our injured forwards. Everybody was hurting after the display against Wales but we must now focus on the challenge that Ireland bring and there’s absolute determination to bounce back against them at Murrayfield on Sunday.”

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