British and Irish Lions are making good progress - Warren Gatland

Lions defence coach Andy Farrell shares a joke with fly-half Johnny Sexton
Lions defence coach Andy Farrell shares a joke with fly-half Johnny Sexton

Lions head coach Warren Gatland is bullish about the strength of his squad after a bruising semi-finals weekend in the English Premiership and Pro12.

England flanker James Haskell has been called up to replace Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola, who had to withdraw because of a shoulder injury.

However, Johnny Sexton, Jack McGrath, Sean O'Brien, Ken Owens and Rhys Webb have been given the all clear.

Sexton and McGrath suffered injuries during Leinster's loss to the Scarlets.

Fly-half Sexton underwent a head injury assessment following his side's 27-15 defeat at the RDS but will be able to train with the rest of the Lions squad on Tuesday.

McGrath, who lasted just nine minutes of the match last Friday, was able to take part in Monday's training session at Carton House in the Republic of Ireland after an X-ray on his arm injury showed no major damage.

Scarlets hooker Owens (ankle), Leinster flanker Sean O'Brien (calf) and Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb (groin) all missed last weekend's Pro12 play-offs but their places in the Lions squad are not in jeopardy.

"I think we are pretty good," Gatland said. "The guys are making good progress."

"We spend a lot of time going through the process of picking players, and trying to plan and prepare, so to lose someone is disappointing," the Lions head coach added. "You have just got to move on. The decision has been made, and we look forward."

Gatland has already indicated that Munster's CJ Stander will now come into selection contention as a number eight, having played for Ireland as a blind-side flanker during the Six Nations.

Warburton hails Farrell influence

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Lions captain Sam Warburton

Team captain Sam Warburton was another player who returned to full contact training on Monday after recovering from a knee injury.

The Wales open-side flanker has praised the impact defence coach Andy Farrell has already had on the playing group.

The Ireland defence coach, who was also an assistant coach to Gatland in 2013, has impressed Warburton with how he has set the tone in defensive training sessions.

Warburton is also hoping to gain some insight from Ireland's win over the All Blacks in Chicago last November ahead of the first Test in New Zealand on 24 June.

"It's good to have those boys around and that they've got that experience," Warburton said.

"I think as we get closer to those Test matches, I think you'll tap into the Irish boys, perhaps, a little bit more and I'm sure they'll share a bit of insight on their success over New Zealand as well."

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