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Johnny Sexton will be given time to prove his fitness ahead of Ireland's RBS Six Nations clash with France on Saturday week.
Sexton did not feature in the defeat to Scotland or the win over France due to a calf injury but the Ireland medical team are hopeful that he will be fit for the visit of France to the Aviva Stadium.
The Leinster fly-half did not take part in Friday's training session at Monaghan RFC, undergoing rehabilitation work away from the main group, but he is 'hitting his markers' and is expected to train fully on Tuesday.
“He’s hitting all his markers, he ran well today. It’s an incremental thing, as long as you keep hitting your markers. So he did some high-speed running today, he’ll do some volume running over the weekend, and then he should be fit to go in and out of training on Monday and then train fully on Tuesday," Schmidt explained.
“Those are the markers he’s got to hit and he’s hit them comfortably so far. We’re not trying to over-accelerate that, we’re being a little bit cautious and, therefore, we’ll know by Thursday. If he completes training on Tuesday, we know that he’s set to go.”
Peter O’Mahony, Iain Henderson and Andrew Trimble have all returned to training and Schmidt is optimistic that they will be ready to face France.
“There’s a small amount of uncertainty around Iain Henderson and Peter O’Mahony, but now that they’ve trained fully and the nature of training today, we’d be really super-confident that they are set to go. They both trained really well," the New Zealander explained.
“Andrew Trimble trained really well today as well, so we are starting to get those guys back. Johnny is maybe three or four days behind them, that’s all. We’d be very hopeful that we’ll get that as well.”
Rob Kearney hurt his bicep during the win over Italy and there were fears he would miss the remainder of the tournament.
Like Sexton, the Louth man trained away from the main group and the management team are quietly confident that he could be available for selection.
"Again he’s hitting all his markers. We’re probably quietly confident there, more than overtly confident, but as long as he keeps going in the direction he’s going, we’d hope that he’ll take a full part in training on Tuesday," Schmidt added.
“We’ll get confidence from that, he’ll get confidence from that and then we can roll into Thursday and into the match on Saturday, hopefully.
“He’s got a tendon injury just at the base of the bicep, so it’s one of those things that we’ve just got to see how it reacts to all the demands that he will have of his bicep.”
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