Six Nations: Conor Murray fit for Ireland v Italy match

Conor Murray made his senior Ireland debut in August 2011
Conor Murray made his senior Ireland debut in August 2011
RBS Six Nations: Italy v Ireland
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 7 February Kick-off: 14:30 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, Radio 5 live extra, Radio Ulster, the BBC Sport website, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV.

Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray has recovered from a neck injury and is available to play against Italy in Saturday's Six Nations opener in Rome.

Murray is back in full training, although number eight Jamie Heaslip is a concern because of a shoulder injury.

Fit-again Sean O'Brien is available to face the Italians, but the flanker may not be risked as he makes his comeback from long-term shoulder problems.

Cian Healy and Johnny Sexton are set to return against France on 14 February.

Leinster prop Healy hopes to have recovered from his long-term hamstring injury by then, while Racing Metro fly-half Sexton is expecting the all-clear on Thursday for the France game as he completes his enforced 12-week lay-off after a string of concussions.

Last week Ireland boss Joe Schmidt was sweating on injuries to both front-line scrum-halves - Murray and Leinster's Eoin Reddan - but both could now face Italy.

Jamie Heaslip is tackled by Australia's Tetera Faulkner in the November Test in Dublin
Jamie Heaslip is tackled by Australia's Tetera Faulkner in the November Test in Dublin

"Conor Murray trained well on Friday and he progressed to full contact training," said Ireland team manager Mick Kearney.

"There was some minor contact in that session but he came through it really well, and we would expect that Conor would be available for selection."

Kearney added that there was "some small doubt" regarding Heaslip's chances of playing on Saturday.

Wing Dave Kearney is expected to be fit for selection despite suffering a shoulder injury in Leinster's 20-20 Champions Cup draw with Wasps on 24 January.

Lock Mike McCarthy has not been ruled out of the Italy match despite suffering a heavy concussion in Friday night's Ireland Wolfhounds match against England Saxons, while Luke Fitzgerald has recovered from illness.

Kearney also confirmed that O'Brien came through the Wolfhounds game, his first match since September, unscathed.

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