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Jonathan Sexton's chances of being fit to face France for Ireland in Six Nations are fading

Last Updated: 28/02/13 4:22pm

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Jonny Sexton: Had to be helped off against England

Jonny Sexton: Had to be helped off against England

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The chances of fly-half Jonathan Sexton being fit to face France in Ireland's penultimate Six Nations clash in Dublin on March 9 are fading.

Sexton missed the 12-8 defeat by Scotland with the hamstring injury which forced him off in the Aviva Stadium defeat by England and Irish team manager Mick Kearney revealed hopes of a return are slim.

"Jonny continues to make progress. He's back running this week but to reach match level intensity there's still significant work to do," Kearney said.

"At this stage we are more hopeful than confident of his availability for France. We would say it's somewhat less than 50-50."

Munster lock Donnacha Ryan is also a doubt after incurring a shoulder problem at Murrayfield, while his second row partner Mike McCarthy continues to nurse a knee problem.

The prognosis over Craig Gilroy's groin complaint is better, however, with the Ulster wing expected to train next week.

"Donnacha suffered a bruised AC joint. He won't take part in training this week and will be reassessed on Monday. At this stage he is in some doubt for France," Kearney said.

"Mike is running well and is improving, but he has a number of milestones to reach before being available for selection. At this stage we'd rate his chances of being fit at 50-50.

"Craig Gilroy suffered a groin strain but scans excluded a tear. He continues to improve and should train fully next week."

Beleagured head coach Declan Kidney is battling calls for him to quit after successive defeats but he said: "I haven't been thinking about it. My only concern is to help this team do as well as they can do. That's my reason for being here.

"We have a match against France next weekend and that's all I'm concentrating on.

"There are huge highs and lows that go with this job and last Sunday was a big low, especially after having created so much."

Kidney also defended his decision to replace Brian O'Driscoll as captain with Leinster colleague Jamie Heaslip ahead of the the 2013 championship.

"I'm aware there are frustrations out there. Jamie's done an excellent job for us. He's making good decisions and I'm very happy with him," Kidney added.

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