Ireland's Stander in Six Nations fitness battle

Ireland's Stander in Six Nations fitness battle

Ireland's Stander in Six Nations fitness battle

Holland has joined the squad in Carton House as cover for Devin Toner, who aggravated an ankle injury in last weekend's disappointing defeat to England at the Aviva Stadium.

If he is ruled out for four weeks, that would see him missing Six Nations matches against both Scotland and Italy this month.

Wing Keith Earls appears to have proved his fitness after a hip concern by training on Tuesday, but Ireland must now face the Scots without three key operators, with CJ Stander already missing due to facial fractures. "Keith Earls trained today", the Irish Rugby Football Union confirmed on social media.

Stander will also be working against the clock to make a full recovery time to make the showdowns with France on March 10 and Wales on March 16.

With Ireland's Grand Slam hopes now dashed, it will be imperative for Joe Schmidt's men to dust themselves and try to get their Six Nations title hopes back on track.

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Munster second row Billy Holland was called up to the Ireland squad on Monday.

The news comes a day after CJ Stander was ruled out with a facial injury.

Any further lock injuries could severely test Ireland's tight-five depth.

Ulster's versatile back Will Addison could slot into midfield should Ringrose not shake off his hamstring worry, while Schmidt will still ponder whether to run Robbie Henshaw again at full-back.

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