Ireland hoping Hugo Keenan can prove fitness for Wales clash – but there is talk of him being out for a month

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Fitness race: Hugo Keenan

Ireland have not given up hope of Hugo Keenan featuring in Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales at the Aviva Stadium, despite major doubts hanging over the full-back’s fitness.

Keenan is still recovering from the knee injury that forced him off during the recent win over Italy. but he is understood to be in a race to prove his fitness in time for this weekend.

And Andy Farrell will give Keenan every chance to recover for the Wales game, with the 27-year-old included as part of his wider 36-man squad.

Although there has been no official word from the Ireland camp as of yet, there is some suggestion that Keenan could be facing anything from four to six weeks out.

He did not train last week and an update is expected on his fitness at a press conference later today.

Fresh after being pulled from the Leinster side that beat Benetton at the RDS on Saturday, Ciarán Frawley is on standby to start in the Ireland No 15 jersey this weekend. The versatile Skerries native briefly filled in at full-back in the win over France in Marseille, with Keenan switching to the right wing for the closing stages.

Six of Frawley’s nine starts for Leinster this season have come at full-back, and although he only has two caps to his name, Farrell could call upon the 26-year-old for what would be the biggest test of his career.

The Ireland head coach is also likely to have to plan without Iain Henderson after the long-serving second-row picked up a foot injury in Ulster’s URC defeat to the Ospreys in Wales on Sunday.

Like Keenan, Henderson has been named in the Ireland squad, with the pair’s fitness set to be assessed throughout the week, ahead of the team announcement which is scheduled for early Thursday afternoon.

Today’s Sport News in 90 Seconds – 20th February

In light of Henderson’s setback, Munster’s Tom Ahern has been called up to the squad as cover, while his fellow uncapped clubmate Oli Jager will also train with Ireland in Dublin this week, as Tadhg Furlong looks to overcome the calf injury that ruled the tighthead out of the win over Italy last time out.

Meanwhile, Wales have called up uncapped Scarlets tighthead Harri O’Connor in place of the injured Archie Griffin ahead of Warren Gatland naming his team today.

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