Six Nations 2015: Ireland hopeful over Conor Murray & Eoin Reddan

Eoin Reddan sustained medial ligament damage in Saturday's European game
Eoin Reddan was forced off by injury in the first half of Leinster's draw with Wasps on Saturday

Ireland's management now appear more confident that scrum-halves Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan will be fit for the Six Nations opener against Italy.

On Tuesday, Irish Wolfhounds coach Richie Murphy said he expected both to be involved in Rome on 7 February.

"Both guys look like they'll be fit," he said.

Murphy added that Reddan's knee injury picked up on Leinster duty was "not as bad as first feared" while Murray has been bothered by a neck disc problem.

"We are hoping that both of those guys will be ready for next week and if they're not it opens up an opportunity for Isaac Boss and Kieran Marmion to come in," added Murphy.

Fly-half Jonathan Sexton already looks certain to miss the Rome contest because of concussion protocols.

The Racing Metro fly-half is currently serving a stand-down period following a series of concussions, which is not scheduled to end until 14 February - the day Ireland face France.

With Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson ruled out of the entire Six Nations because of a dislocated elbow, Leinster's Ian Madigan is being tipped to wear Ireland's number 10 jersey against the Italians.

Reddan strained medial knee ligaments in Leinster's European Champions Cup game against Wasps on Saturday while Murray was again out of action a day later as Munster hammered Sale 65-10.

Jonathan Sexton has not played since Ireland's win over Australia on 22 November
Jonathan Sexton is likely to miss Ireland's Six Nations opener against Italy because of concussion

Dave Kearney could be ruled out of the Rome game and possibly Ireland's contest against France a week later after sustaining a shoulder injury in the opening seconds of Leinster's game on Saturday.

On the plus side, Robbie Henshaw is training with Ireland this week after missing Connacht's win over La Rochelle because of a minor ankle sprain while Keith Earls came through Munster's win over Sale unscathed.

Jamie Heaslip will be rested from contact at Ireland training this week because of his ongoing shoulder issue but appears likely to be in the frame for Rome selection.

Rhys Ruddock, who played in Ireland's autumn wins over South Africa and Australia, will not join up with the squad this week as he continues to recover from the broken arm that he sustained in mid-December.

Munster lock Dave Foley could be ruled out of consideration for Ireland's opening two games after sustaining wrist ligament damage in Munster's game against Sale.

Madigan and Sean O'Brien are both expected to play for the Wolfhounds against the England Saxons on Friday night.

Lions flanker O'Brien has not played since the start of the season after suffering a recurrence of a shoulder problem.

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