Six Nations: Sean O'Brien & Cian Healy in line for Ireland returns

Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy
Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy have been out of action since the early part of the season
RBS Six Nations: Ireland v France
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 14 February Kick-off: 17:00 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, Radio 5 live, Radio Ulster FM, the BBC Sport website, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV.

Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy could join Jonathan Sexton in returning to the Ireland team for the Six Nations game with France but Rory Best is a doubt.

O'Brien withdrew from Saturday's 26-3 win over Italy with a hamstring injury but may face France on Saturday.

Healy is in contention to return after a long-term absence following hamstring surgery while Sexton looks certain to take over from Ian Keatley at fly-half.

Best took a knock to the head in Rome and is following concussion protocols.

Flanker O'Brien was set to make his first Ireland appearance for more than a year against the Italians after being out because of shoulder trouble only to suffer the hamstring twinge in the pre-match warm-up.

Ireland's Tommy O'Donnell breaks through to score against Italy

However, Ireland team manager Michael Kearney said on Monday that the injury was "on the minor end of the scale".

"Sean is feeling good and we are hopeful that he will train with the squad tomorrow," Kearney said.

"If he comes through that, he will be available for selection."

Kearney also spoke optimistically about prop Healy's prospects of returning to action for the first time since September.

"Cian Healy trained fully last week, including some scrummaging which he came through very well and he is available for selection."

Jack McGrath started at loose-head prop in Rome after holding down the role in the autumn and it remains to be seen whether Joe Schmidt will risk throwing Healy into the heat of Six Nations action.

Ireland's 2015 Six Nations matches
7 FebruaryItaly 3-26 Ireland
14 FebruaryIreland v France
1 MarchIreland v England
14 MarchWales v Ireland
21 MarchScotland v Ireland

Sexton looks certain to return at fly-half after serving his 12-week concussion lay-off while Jamie Heaslip is likely to reclaim his regular number eight berth after not being risked against Italy because of an ongoing shoulder issue.

However hooker Best is in danger of missing the game at home to France after taking a bang to his head against Italy.

"The minute Rory got the knock, the medics went on to him and he was taken off straight away to do the head injury assessment which he failed," Kearney said.

"Post game he then did another test, pretty much straight afterwards which he came through really well.

"He has been very well since the game and is completing a gradual return-to-play protocol.

"If he completes the protocol without any symptoms, he will be available for selection. He certainly will not be ruled out at this stage."

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