Six Nations 2017: Johnny Sexton in contention for Ireland trip to Italy

Johnny Sexton and Andrew Trimble in action against Italy last season
Sexton and Andrew Trimble both missed Ireland's opening Six Nations defeat by Scotland
RBS Six Nations: Italy v Ireland
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 11 February Kick-off: 14:25 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Ulster; text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Johnny Sexton is in contention to return to Ireland duty in Saturday's Six Nations game against Italy after missing the opening defeat by Scotland.

Ireland team manager Paul Dean said on Monday that the British & Irish Lions fly-half was "back running and will be monitored this week".

Sexton missed the Murrayfield game because of a calf injury.

The Irish do not appear to have picked up any major new injuries in Saturday's surprise 27-22 defeat.

Dean said that prop Tadhg Furlong sustained a bruised shoulder in the Murrayfield contest but will still be able to train fully this week.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said last Thursday that Sexton had an "outside chance" of playing in Rome while he was more hopeful that Donnacha Ryan (knee) and Andrew Trimble (groin) might be available for the Stadio Olimpico game.

Schmidt also indicated last week that Munster flanker Peter O'Mahony was "highly unlikely" to play in Rome after a hamstring injury ruled him out of the Murrayfield game.

Munster lock Ryan's absence saw Ulster's Iain Henderson partnering Devin Toner in the second row.

Sexton's replacement Paddy Jackson scored a second-half try in Ireland's weekend defeat and was rated as one of the team's better performers in Edinburgh.

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Scottish police diverted Irish from intended route

Referring to Schmidt's post-match revelation that Ireland had been 10 minutes late arriving at Murrayfield, Dean said that Scottish police had diverted the team coach away from its intended route.

"We took a different route, enforced by the police. The circumstances were out of our control but we don't feel it contributed to the performance on the day," said the Ireland team manager.

Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw said the delay "wasn't the norm" but refused to use the issue as an excuse for the team's poor first-half performance.

"When we first got to the dressing room, we had 25 minutes to the warm-up - usually it is 45 minutes in the Aviva," said the Leinster player.

"That would have been a change for some of the lads. It was a change in set-up.

"We're not making excuses - we were primed and ready to perform from three trainings during the week.

"We knew what was going to come at us. There are no excuses for the slow start."

Despite Ireland's defeat, Henshaw believes the team's championship hopes remain very much alive.

"There is confidence we can still win the championship based on what we did in November. This is an incredible group and we know we can still win it."

Henshaw added that the Ireland squad had had a group review of the game on Sunday night before individual sessions on Monday morning.

"It was very frustrating and we're looking forward to putting it right this weekend," added the former Connacht player.

"It comes down to how we started. We felt flat as a group in the game. We gave them time and space on the ball and they punished us in the wider channels.

"Our spacing was narrow and when we got it spot on. They didn't get a chance after we fixed it."

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