Six Nations: Jonathan Sexton a doubt for Ireland's France clash

Jonathan Sexton
Jonathan Sexton during kicking practice in Paris on Friday

RBS Six Nations Championship 2012: France v Ireland

Venue:
Stade de France, Paris
Date:
Saturday, 11 February
Kick-off:
2000 GMT
Coverage:
Live on BBC Two, BBC 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio Ulster MW, BBC Sport website. Live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton is a fitness concern for Saturday's Six Nations clash against France.

Sexton was reported to have suffered a "tight thigh muscle" during kicking practice in Paris on Friday so Ronan O'Gara is now on stand-by to start.

Paddy Wallace, who had been scheduled to play for Ulster against the Dragons on Friday, has been called into the Ireland squad as cover.

The match is subject to a late pitch inspection because of freezing weather.

The return of Keith Earls was the only change from Sunday's defeat by Wales.

An Ireland team spokesman told BBC Sport that Wallace had been brought into the squad as a "precaution" and that Sexton's fitness would be further assessed on Saturday morning.

Munster's Earls, who pulled out of last weekend's match because his recently-born daughter was unwell, replaces Fergus McFadden.

Leinster back McFadden moves to the bench in place of David Kearney.

Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris retains his place after being cleared by a citing commission on Wednesday.

Blindside Ferris was yellow-carded for the tackle on Ian Evans which led to Leigh Halfpenny's late penalty which sealed the 23-21 victory for Wales.

Coach Declan Kidney welcomed the return of Earls.

"Keith has been bubbling away since he has been back with us and has trained well. It was tough on Fergus to lose out," Kidney said.

Ireland have triumphed in Paris just once since 1972 and have beaten France only once in 12 meetings at all venues dating back to 2003.

"There's a lot we have to improve on. Some of the silly errors we made against Wales we must cut out," said captain Paul O'Connell.

"Against France away from home you need to start well. It is frustrating that I haven't beaten France in Paris, but we have a team that can do it."

France got their Six Nations campaign off to a winning start by beating Italy 12-30 France on Saturday.

Ireland team to face France at the Stade de France: Rob Kearney (Leinster), Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Keith Earls (Munster), Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Donncha O'Callaghan (Munster), Paul O'Connell (Munster) cpt, Stephen Ferris (Ulster), Sean O'Brien (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster).

Replacements: Sean Cronin (Leinster), Tom Court (Ulster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster), Ronan O'Gara (Munster), Fergus McFadden (Leinster). Stand-by: Paddy Wallace (Ulster).

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