Six Nations: Jonny Sexton passed fit to face Italy
Jonny Sexton has been passed fit to face Italy in the Six Nations in Dublin on Saturday.
Last Updated: 06/03/14 1:37pm
The Racing Metro fly-half had been a doubt for the game because of an injured thumb but he has recovered sufficiently to take on the Azzurri.
The only change to the side which lost to England last time out sees Ulster's Iain Henderson replace Peter O'Mahony at blindside flanker.
Munster captain O'Mahony has a hamstring problem and head coach Joe Schmidt has decided not to risk him with a potential title-decider with France looming on March 15.
Sexton damaged thumb ligaments in Ireland's 13-10 England defeat on February 22 - however he proved his fitness in Thursday's training session.
Former captain Brian O'Driscoll will set a new world-record for Test appearances, taking his tally to 140 with his eight Lions bows included.
The Leinster superstar will beat former Australia scrum-half George Gregan's total of 139.
Seven of Ireland's eight replacements hail from Leinster, the province Schmidt coached before stepping up to Ireland duty last summer.
Schmidt said reports from France suggesting Sexton would be out for up to 10 weeks were well wide of the mark.
"It was a sprained thumb - he finished the (England) game," he said.
"There was bruising, and it's gone. Look, I think one of the things is there's a bit of distance.
"There were some discussions with (Racing coach) Laurent Labit who was not in the country.
"Racing have been pretty good value, they understand Jonny's a pretty important shared resource."
On O'Mahony's absence he added: "If this was the last game of the Six Nations we might have risked Peter.
"But there was a risk. He didn't train today, and that was the difference. If he'd trained fully we would have included him but he wasn't able. I'd be really confident for him about Paris next week."
Ireland: 15 R Kearney, 14 Trimble, 13 O'Driscoll, 12 D'Arcy, 11 D Kearney, 10 Sexton, 9 Murray, 1 Healy, 2 Best, 3 Ross, 4 Toner, 5 O'Connell, 6 Henderson, 7 Henry, 8 Heaslip. Replacements: 16 Cronin, 17 McGrath, 18 Moore, 19 Ruddock, 20 J Murphy, 21 Reddan, 22 Jackson, 23 McFadden