France v Ireland: Teams

At Stade de France, Saturday February 11, kick-off 8pm

Last Updated: 10/02/12 8:05pm

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Keith Earls: joined back up with his international team-mates at the start of the week

Keith Earls: joined back up with his international team-mates at the start of the week

Sky Bet

Ireland have called up Paddy Wallace as cover for Jonathan Sexton ahead of Saturday's RBS Six Nations clash with France.

Sexton tweaked his thigh muscle during Friday's kicking practice in Paris and will be monitored over the next 24 hours.

If Sexton is deemed unfit to play, Ronan O'Gara will be promoted to the starting line-up with Wallace drafted on to the bench.

Declan Kidney has restored Keith Earls at outside centre as Ireland attempt to bounce back from their opening defeat to Wales.

Earls had been scheduled to start in the No.13 jersey normally worn by Brian O'Driscoll in the tournament opener in Dublin last week, only to be withdrawn when his new-born baby girl was admitted into hospital.

The 24-year-old joined back up with his international team-mates at the start of the week and has replaced Fergus McFadden in the line-up to start in Paris.

McFadden drops down to the bench with David Kearney losing his spot among the replacements.

"Keith's been bubbling away since he's been back with us and has trained well. It was tough on Fergus to lose out," Kidney said."

Ferris cleared

Meanwhile, Stephen Ferris continues at blindside flanker after being cleared on Wednesday by a disciplinary hearing of tip-tackling Wales lock Ian Evans during his side's 23-21 defeat in Dublin.

Ireland have won just once in the French capital since 1972 but can ill-afford a second successive defeat at the start of this year's championship.

"There's a lot we have to improve on. Some of the silly errors we made against Wales we must cut out," captain Paul O'Connell said.

"Against France away from home you need to start well. It's frustrating that I haven't beaten France in Paris, but we have a team that can do it."

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has made four changes to his starting line-up for the visit of Ireland.

Saint-Andre's tenure got off to a successful start as Les Bleus beat Italy 30-12 in his first game in charge last weekend.

Pitch inspection

Despite that victory at the Stade de France, the former Sale supremo had hinted he would tinker with his starting XV and all four changes have come in the pack.

In the front-row Jean-Baptiste Poux takes over at loose-head prop from Vincent Debaty, while Dimitri Szarzewski is given the nod at hooker in place of William Servat.

Yoann Maestri of Toulouse has been preferred to veteran Lionel Nallet in the second row and will make his full debut after coming off the bench against Italy, while Imanol Harinordoquy takes over from Julian Bonnaire at flanker.

The back-line remains unchanged with Wesley Fofana retaining his place in the centres alongside Clermont team-mate Aurelien Rougerie following an impressive try-scoring debut last weekend and Francois Trinh-Duc continuing at fly-half.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed on Friday that the Stade de France has passed a pitch inspection.

Both teams' traditional eve-of-match captain's run was cancelled in an attempt to protect the turf from the sub-zero temperatures that have gripped Paris.

The stadium lacks under-soil heating, so the covers will only be removed two hours before the scheduled 9pm local time kick-off. The temperature beneath the covers is being maintained at two degrees and there will be another inspection on Saturday.

France: Maxime Medard (Toulouse); Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Aurelien Rougerie (Clermont), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Julien Malzieu (Clermont); Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz); Louis Picamoles (Toulouse), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt); Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Pascal Pape (Stade Français); Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Dimitry Szarzewski (Stade Français), Jean Baptiste Poux (Toulouse)
Replacements: William Servat (Toulouse), Vincent Debaty (Clermont), Lionel Nallet (Racing-Metro), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont), Morgan Parra (Clermont), Lionel Beauxis (Toulouse), Maxime Mermoz (Perpignan).

Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), K Earls (Munster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster, capt), S Ferris (Ulster), S O'Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster), T Court (Ulster), D Ryan (Munster), P O'Mahony (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster), F McFadden (Leinster);
Stand-by: P Wallace (Ulster)

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