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Six Nations 2017: Sexton and Kearney set to be passed fit for Ireland’s France game

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Ireland team manager Paul Dean expects Sexton and Kearney both to train fully on Tuesday
Six Nations: Ireland v France
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 25 February Kick-off: 16:50 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Ulster & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Johnny Sexton and Rob Kearney look set to be passed fit for Ireland’s third Six Nations game, against France at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Ireland team manager Paul Dean said on Monday that he expected both Leinster players to train fully on Tuesday.

Sexton, 31, missed the defeat by Scotland and the rout of Italy because of a calf injury while Kearney, 30, damaged biceps in the Rome game.

“Everybody looks good to fully train tomorrow,” said Dean on Monday.

“Johnny Sexton will play a part in training today, but will fully train tomorrow. Hopefully when he comes through that, he’ll be fine for the weekend.

“Rob Kearney continues to make progress. He’ll do some contact work today and he’ll fully train tomorrow.

“If you talk to Johnny and Rob they’ll both say that they’re 100% fit and ready to go, so we just need the medics to pass them and they need to prove to us that they are.”

Paddy Jackson converted all nine Irish tries in Rome and also impressed in open play

Sexton likely to be replace Jackson

Ulster’s Paddy Jackson deputised impressively for Sexton at Murrayfield and in Rome, while Munster fly-half Ian Keatley also remains in Joe Schmidt’s squad despite Joey Carbery’s return to fitness.

Schmidt said after the Italy game that Jackson was putting Sexton under genuine pressure for the number 10 jersey, but the Leinster player is still tipped to return this weekend.

If full-back Kearney is not deemed ready, Simon Zebo could be switched from wing, while Connacht’s Tiernan O’Halloran is another option for the number 15 shirt.

Scrum-half Conor Murray missed training on Friday because of a hip problem but also looks likely to be available for the France game.

Josh van der Flier’s absence because of a shoulder injury is offset by Peter O’Mahony’s return to the squad.

Munster flanker O’Mahony missed Ireland’s opening two games because of a hamstring injury.

Ireland in the 2017 Six Nations
Saturday, 4 February, Scotland 27-22 Ireland
Saturday, 11 February, Italy 10-63 Ireland
Saturday, 25 February, 16:50 GMT: Ireland v France
Friday, 10 March, 20:05 GMT: Wales v Ireland
Saturday, 18 March, 17:00 GMT: Ireland v England

Van der Flier came on as a second-half replacement for Sean O’Brien in both the Scotland and Italy games.

Schmidt is faced with the decision of whether to recall Jack McGrath at loose-head prop in place of his Leinster provincial team-mate Cian Healy, who started in Rome.

Centre Mathieu Bastareaud and flanker Damien Chouly have been ruled out for France.

Toulon’s Bastareaud was drafted back into France’s squad for the Dublin game but has now been ruled out by concussion after taking a blow to the head in the Top 14 match against Lyon on Saturday.

Chouly, a replacement in the 22-16 win over Scotland, suffered an ankle injury in France training on Monday and has been replaced in the squad by Stade Francais’ Raphael Lakafia.

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