Earls the biggest doubt as injuries force Ireland rethink

Ireland have delayed their team announcement for their RBS 6 Nations clash with England by 48 hours until Friday lunchtime as they assess their walking wounded.

Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls, Rob Kearney, Mike Ross and Peter O’Mahony sustained knocks in Saturday’s 30-22 victory over Wales but are expected to participate in training this week.

The biggest doubt hangs over Earls, who will see a specialist in the coming days for a prognosis on his shoulder problem.

Ireland host England on Sunday in a match that could determine the winners of the Six Nations following France’s shock 23-18 defeat by Italy in Rome.

The rivals enter the Aviva Stadium showdown on the back of convincing opening-day victories, although Ireland took a battering in a ferocious second half at Millennium Stadium.

Crucially, however, they returned home with a momentum-building triumph that ended a run of three successive defeats by Wales.

Toppling England would give their hopes of repeating their 2009 Grand Slam serious credibility with France also due to visit Aviva Stadium.

“It was a very physical game, real Six Nations stuff which you expect when you come to Cardiff,” O’Driscoll said.

“We’d lost the last three to Wales and we just felt as though we needed to stop the rot. It’s a great day, a good start for us in this Six Nations. It puts us in a good place with England to come next week.

“This championship’s about momentum. If you lose the first you’re in trouble, if you win you’re in a good spot. We have to build on this.

“The understanding from winning the Grand Slam in 2009 is that even when you’re not great, you have to be good. Consistency will be the key for this Six Nations.”

The result condemned Wales to an eighth successive defeat, but Ireland head coach Declan Kidney insists they remain a force in the tournament.

“Last year we lost this game narrowly and that’s the nature of this tournament. Wales will roll up their sleeves and get themselves going again,” Kidney said.

“They will be formidable opposition for other sides and I’m glad this isn’t a home and away competition because I wouldn’t want to have another go at them.”

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