‘It would be a blow’: Ireland set to be without captain Jack Kelly for Italy trip

IRELAND U20 CAPTAIN Jack Kelly is set to miss this weekend’s clash with Italy and there is a danger the shoulder injury could jeopardise the rest of his Six Nations campaign.

The full back sustained the knock to his AC joint during Friday’s victory over Scotland and the damage is worse than originally thought with Kelly all but ruled out of the trip to the Stadio Enrico Chersoni.

The former St Michael’s College student sat out the squad’s first session of the week at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown yesterday and a call will be made on his availability later.

“Jack is under pressure for the weekend,” assistant coach Peter Malone said.

“He got a real bang on the AC joint so I don’t know if he has been ruled out yet but it will be a long shot if he makes it. He didn’t train today [Monday] and I’d say we’ll make a call on it Tuesday.

Although Kelly has emerged as the only injury concern from the 20-19 win at Broadwood Stadium, losing the captain for the next few games would be a significant blow to Nigel Carolan’s side.

“It would be a blow,” Malone continued. “He is our captain but these guys would have to adapt to it. It is part and parcel of rugby that you are going to get an injury profile in your team and it is up to the other guys. We feel as if we have a bit of strength in our back three and our centres so we hope it will open a door for someone else to step in and stake a claim.”

Munster out-half Bill Johnston could be called into the squad later in the tournament. Source: CameraSport/Andrew Vaughn/INPHO

Meanwhile, Munster out-half Bill Johnston could come into contention for the latter half of the tournament if he can get minutes under his belt for Garryowen over the next few weeks.

Johnston has been nursing an ankle injury since December after going over on it in the first minute of Munster A’s B&I Cup game against Rotherham before Christmas.

“Guys like that just need to get some game time,” Malone explained.

“And you have guys like Ronan Kelleher who was in the squad but again just needs to get games before you can consider him for a match. Bill is the same.

“He had his first hit out for Garryowen on Friday night and he just needs to get some game time under his belt. We are going to let him play for Garryowen for two weeks and see how he is going. We have a gap after that so we have a bit of time to assess whether he comes into the squad or not.”

Ulster winger Rob Lyttle won’t, however, be involved as he remains sidelined through injury and the Ireland U20 management expect to know later whether they’ll have Munster’s Calvin Nash available for this weekend after he played for the province in the Pro12 win over Edinburgh last week.

Source: The42 Rugby Show/SoundCloud

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