Ireland boosted for Wales clash by return of O’Connell and D’Arcy

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Ireland have been handed a major boost ahead of their Six Nations clash with Wales after captain Paul O’Connell and centre Gordon D’Arcy were recalled to the starting line-up.

Munster lock O’Connell missed his side’s win over Scotland with a chest infection but after training with the squad he is ready to take his place in the team ahead of Dan Tuohy, who moves to the replacements bench.

D’Arcy was also out of action for the game against the Scots but dislodges Luke Marshall for the clash against the Six Nations champions.

The Leinster star partners Brian O’Driscoll in the midfield for the Irish, who are 4/6 with Ladbrokes for the win at the Aviva Stadium, for the 53rd time in international rugby.

Luke Fitzgerald and Eoin Reddan were not considered for selection to face Warren Gatland’s side, who are 6/5 to keep their bid for a third straight title alive with victory, as they continue their recovery from injury.

The duo, who are suffering from a hip injury and a calf strain respectively, are closing in on a return to action and could be sent back to Leinster for the Pro12 clash with Zebre in Italy.

Ulster wing Andrew Trimble, who scored the first try last weekend, continues in the absence of Fitzgerald, while club team-mate Tommy Bowe could be back in action next week to boost Ireland’s championship challenge even further.

Rob Kearney handed Ireland’s management a slight worry earlier in the week when he sat out practice but the British and Irish Lion is fit enough to take his place in the side for this vital Six Nations clash.

Ireland XV to face Wales: R Kearney; A Trimble, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D Toner, P O’Connell; P O’Mahony, C Henry, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, M Moore, D Tuohy, T O’Donnell, I Boss, P Jackson, F McFadden.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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