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Published: 13:22 | 2/6/16

Quartet called into Ireland squad

Sexton, Kearneys and Fitzgerald ruled out

Joe Schmidt has called four players into the Ireland squad for the upcoming three-Test tour of South Africa.

Matt Healy, Craig Gilroy, Ian Madigan and Tiernan O'Halloran have been added to the squad after a number of players were ruled out through injury.

Johnny Sexton will miss the tour due to a shoulder injury and, as expected, his place in the squad will go to Bordeaux-bound Ian Madigan, while Healy comes in for Luke Fitzgerald, who was ruled out on Monday.

The two Kearney brothers will miss the tour to South Africa with Gilroy replacing Dave and O'Halloran stepping in for Rob.

Sexton was injured during Leinster's Guinness PRO12 final defeat to Connacht in Edinburgh but managed to complete the full 80 minutes. However, he has undergone surgery and is facing up to three months on the sidelines.

Dave Kearney sustained a calf strain in the same game, while his brother pulled up during Wednesday's training session with a hamstring problem.

“Those three injuries (Sexton, Fitzgerald and Dave Kearney) came out of the PRO12 final unfortunately. Jonathan saw a specialist on Monday evening and it was decided that the best course of action was to get surgery. All three of those players will hopefully be ready and fit for the start of the next season," Schmidt told reporters on Thursday.

“Contrary to what was written there wasn’t a lot of contact (in training during the week). Rob Kearney was running in free space when he strained his hamstring. Rob was looking incredibly sharp and it is disappointing for him but it is a fantastic opportunity for some of those young players who come in and get their opportunity to put their best foot forward.”

When asked about the severity of Sexton's injury, Schmidt replied: “I don’t know too much about the detail other than to say, there as a feeling it could be managed and there was a feeling that it could be managed conservatively, either for him to continue playing or for him to return but after seeing the specialist, it was felt that surgery was the most appropriate action.

“I had a good conversation with Johnny. We have to move on and you start investing in Paddy Jackson, Ian Madigan and Stu Olding.”

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