Mike McCarthy set for Ireland debut against Scotland

Mike McCarthy
Mike McCarthy will make his senior international debut in Edinburgh

Connacht flanker Mike McCarthy will make his Ireland debut in Saturday's World Cup warm-up game against Scotland at Murrayfield.

Munster's Felix Jones could also make his first Ireland appearance after being named on the bench.

Full-back Rob Kearney gets his first start since November after recovering from a knee injury.

Munster scrum-half Tomas O'Leary also returns after missing the end of last season with an eye injury.

He will resume his half-back partnership with Jonathan Sexton in what is likely to be Ireland's first-choice combination for the World Cup.

Fergus McFadden and Paddy Wallace will form a new centre partnership while Leo Cullen will captain the team.

Andrew Trimble and Luke Fitzgerald are on the wings and Tom Court, Sean Cronin and Tony Buckley will pack down in the front row.

Donnacha Ryan starts alongside Cullen in the engine room of the pack while new cap McCarthy will have plenty of experience alongside him, with the 50-times capped Denis Leamy starting at No.8 and Niall Ronan at open side flanker.

Flanker Stephen Ferris and centre Gordon D'Arcy are Ireland's two major injury concerns ahead of the World Cup and both will miss the Scotland clash and probably also sit out the 13 August game against France.

"Gordon and Stephen face a race against time but are making progress," said Ireland manager Paul McNaughton earlier this week.

It is hoped Ferris and D'Arcy will get game time before going to New Zealand, where the team's World Cup campaign begins against the United States on 11 September.

Usual skipper Brian O'Driscoll is also unlikely to figure until after the France game.

"Brian has been doing 80% of the work over the last two weeks. I am not too concerned about him," added McNaughton.

"He has a problem with his shoulder/neck and has been having some traction on it.

"He is doing everything except contact this week, but is unlikely to play in the first two games."

Coach Declan Kidney is juggling the need to test out combinations and give certain players game time but insists beating Scotland remains the priority.

"When you play a Test match there's no holding back - you either go for it or you don't," said Kidney.

"If you operate at only 80 or 90% you actually increase your chances of picking up a knock.

"It's a Test match and that's the way we're approaching it - we want to go out there and get a win.

"First and foremost every time you wear the green jersey you want to win the game.

"That's why we have a good, experienced team with just one new cap in it.

"We also want to try new combinations and from there get our base level right to see where we are come Saturday."

Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); A Trimble (Ulster), F McFadden (Leinster), P Wallace (Ulster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); J Sexton (Leinster), T O'Leary (Munster); T Court (Ulster), S Cronin (Leinster), T Buckley (Sale), D Ryan (Munster), L Cullen (Leinster, capt), M McCarthy (Connacht), N Ronan (Munster), D Leamy (Munster).

Replacements: J Flannery (Munster), M Horan (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), M O'Driscoll (Munster), K McLaughlin (Leinster), I Boss (Leinster), F Jones (Munster).