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Published: 09:33 | 1/3/16

Eight stitches for Murray

Conor Murray is expected to be available for Ireland's RBS Six Nations clash with Italy on Saturday week despite suffering a facial injury in the defeat to England.

Murray required stitches after Mike Brown's boot came into contact with his face during a second-half ruck at Twickenham, but head coach Joe Schmidt is confident he will be ready for the visit of Italy to the Aviva Stadium.

"The good news with Conor is there is no damage to the actual eye, which is what we feared at the time," Schmidt said.

"He has got eight stitches in the corner of the eye, but hopefully will be back training tomorrow without contact. His eye is closed over with the inflammation and bruising, but there is nothing too damaging there apart from the sutures."

Jared Payne missed Saturday's defeat due to a hamstring injury but he is expected to take part in Tuesday's training session at Carton House.

Jared Payne was back running today and is expected to train fully tomorrow," Schmidt stated.

With Ireland not due to play until next week, Schmidt has revealed that a number of players will be released back to their respective provinces for the weekend.

"Some of the players will go back to play for their provinces. The provinces are in tight spots in the Pro12 so they'll go back and get some game-time," he confirmed.

"There will be about 12 of the squad that will turn out that were involved at the weekend, a number of guys off the bench.

"That will be another opportunity for them to get game-fit because some of the guys who have come back into the squad, even the starting team, haven't had much game-time.

"We felt we were maybe a couple of runs short. This gives us an opportunity to get a little bit more time under their belts and hopefully that will pay dividends."

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Ludik agrees Ulster extension

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