Six Nations 2014: Ireland confident over Jonny Sexton fitness

Ireland are confident that Jonny Sexton will be available for selection for the Six Nations game with Italy next Saturday despite a thumb injury.

Sexton's club Racing Metro had indicated that the fly-half would be "ruled out for between 10 days to six weeks" with ligament damage.

Ireland explained that the problem did not require surgery.

"If Jonny continues his current rate of improvement we are confident he will be fit for selection," read a statement.

Six Nations table

Played Won Points

Ireland

3

2

4

England

3

2

4

Wales

3

2

4

France

3

2

4

Scotland

3

1

2

Italy

3

0

0

Sexton scans had been reviewed by a consultant hand specialist at the request of the Irish medical staff, after Racing Metro coach Laurent Labit spoke to reporters in Paris earlier on Thursday.

The former Leinster number 10 suffered the injury in Ireland's 13-10 defeat by England on Saturday and he left London with a splint on his hand before returning to France.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said on Monday that, although Sexton was in pain, he could pass the ball, adding that he expected his first-choice fly-half to be fit to face Italy at the Aviva Stadium.

With a fixture against France in Paris on 15 March, Ireland remain strong contenders to win the championship despite defeat by England at Twickenham.

Ireland say they have "no immediate concerns" over a knee injury sustained by Andrew Trimble during training on Thursday.

Ireland's remaining fixtures

8 March: Italy (h)

15 March: France (a)

Trimble limped out of the session in Belfast early, but an Ireland spokesman said the move was "a precaution" and he would be assessed on Friday.

The winger has started all three Six Nations games but may come under pressure for his place from Fergus McFadden or fit-again Ulster colleague Tommy Bowe.

Luke Fitzgerald and Simon Zebo offer further options on the wing, although Dave Kearney's position in the team looks secure after an impressive performance against England.

Flanker Peter O'Mahony is expected to be fit to face Italy after a scan revealed no hamstring tear.

Ireland described his injury as "improving" and he will commence running at the weekend, while Brian O'Driscoll continues his recovery from cramp.