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Published: 15:08 | 23/2/16

Payne remains slight doubt


Jared Payne has been given until Thursday to prove his fitness for Ireland's RBS Six Nations game against England.

Payne is struggling with a hamstring injury but managed to take part in Monday's training session at Carton House. He sat out training on Tuesday and will undergo a fitness test on Thursday morning before head coach Joe Schmidt names his team for Twickenham.

“Everyone trained fully today apart from Jared Payne. He trained 80-90% yesterday and ran well, we’ll give him until Thursday to prove his fitness,” forwards coach Simon Easterby confirmed.

Payne is likely to take his place in the starting XV if deemed fit enough to be included in the matchday squad, but the management team are looking at alternatives in the event that he is ruled out.

Keith Earls, who deputised at centre during the World Cup, Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall are all in with a chance of patterning Robbie Henshaw in midfield.

"We’ve got a few combinations we can look at, Jared has been excellent and in particular he’s been dominant in defence. He took an early bump against France, but he dug in and got us out of trouble," Easterby explained.

"Earlsy’s played there, Luke Marshall too, we’re keen to get Jared back and will give him as much time as possible.

"Robbie’s showed himself to be adaptable, he’s player No 15 for Connacht and 13. We have to be adaptable with injuries, with players playing in different positions. We feel comfortable that whatever combination we go with have had enough time, that they can work with the wingers and will be in a good place."

Johnny Sexton, meanwhile, took full part in Tuesday's training and is available for selection.

"Johnny trained fully, Simon Zebo trained fully. We’re pretty good today, unlike most weeks," Easterby stated.

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