Six Nations 2019: Ireland coach Schmidt hopeful over Carbery fitness

Joey Carbery faces a race against time to be available for the game against France at the Aviva Stadium
Joey Carbery faces a race against time to be available for the game against France at the Aviva Stadium

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says fly-half Joey Carbery is making "really good progress" in a bid to fit to be face France in the Six Nations on 10 March.

The Munster player sustained a hamstring injury in training last week and it was feared he would miss the last two games in the tournament.

"I would best describe it as being hopeful - if he can train on Wednesday he comes into the frame," said Schmidt.

Ireland lie third and three points behind leaders Wales.

The Ireland squad trained in Belfast on Friday morning with Schmidt providing a positive injury update on Carbery along with team-mates Dan Leavy (calf) and Robbie Henshaw (dead leg).

"Joey is making really good progress and we're hopeful that he may be able to train next Wednesday," added Schmidt.

In the frame

"Even if he makes it back by next Friday and he's done a fair bit on Tuesday and Wednesday, that would potentially put him in the frame.

"If he doesn't make the France game I would probably progress from hopeful to confident for the Wales match."

He said according to feedback, Robbie Henshaw "trained well" on Friday morning with Dan Leavy also in training.

Dan Leavy and Robbie Henshaw are set to return to full Ireland training next week
Dan Leavy (left) and Robbie Henshaw are set to return to full Ireland training next week

"We're hoping that they will be back training potentially on Wednesday through to Friday and be in the mix," he said.

Schmidt remains upbeat on Ireland's chances of retaining the Six Nations crown with the game in Dublin followed by a Cardiff meeting with the second-placed Welsh.

"We've got nine points and we're three points off the leader - that leaves us in the mix," he said.

"I don't think we're quite as despairing as some of the pundits think.

"We don't have a choice. We've got to roll our sleeves up and demonstrate a few things in the next two games."