Ireland coach Joe Schmidt positive about Keith Earls' fitness

Ireland wing Keith Earls
Ireland wing Keith Earls receives treatment during the second half

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has given an initial positive fitness bulletin about wing Keith Earls after he was carried off with a head injury during the 16-10 defeat by Wales in Dublin on Saturday.

"Keith just got caught with his head on the wrong side of the tackle," said Schmidt after the Aviva Stadium game.

"He was totally lucid in the changing rooms and remembered his involvements in the game.

"Those are promising signs and he will follow the concussion protocols."

Earls came off the field midway through the second half of the second World Cup warm-up match between the nations during the month of August.

Ireland have plenty of room for improvement

Ireland complete their World Cup preparations against England at Twickenham next Saturday, and there is little doubt that they will require an improved display.

"To be honest, it is a little bit of deja vu," reflected Schmidt after his side's disappointing reverse on home soil.

"We conceded a lot of penalties at the Millennium Stadium during the Six Nations last season, and I think we were six-nil down on penalties on Saturday when we were 10-0 down on the scoreboard.

"You can't give Leigh Halfpenny goal-kicking opportunities, because he is too good at it. You can't give a team the quality of Wales the opportunity to enter into your defensive zone, because they will make you pay for it."

Schmidt expects physical encounter

The Ireland coach added: "I said to the players in the changing room 'it's going to be very tough next week'.

"They (England) are going to look to rebound from a slip-up in France, and they are going to bring a really physical performance to Twickenham to lay down a marker prior to the World Cup, and we are going to have to walk in there and man-up and do the best we can."

Meanwhile, Ireland skipper Paul O'Connell was disappointed that his final international appearance on home soil ended on a losing note.

"There are certain things we wanted to improve on from the Scotland game, and we probably didn't do that. From our point of view that is disappointing," said the second row.

"There are some things that we pride ourselves on, and we didn't do a whole lot of those very well, with discipline being one of them."

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