Fresh from his vote of confidence from IRFU high performance boss David Nucifora, Andy Farrell has been busy sifting through a lengthy Ireland medical bulletin ahead of next Saturday’s third-place Autumn Nations Cup playoff versus Scotland.

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Faced with a six-day turnaround between games following last Sunday’s unimpressive, sluggish win over Georgia, Farrell has learned that Billy Burns, who started for the first time at the weekend, will not be available to face the Scots due to a groin injury.

Also unavailable for selection is winger James Lowe, who made a try-scoring debut against Wales earlier this month but came away from the defeat to England at Twickenham with a groin injury. 

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Andy Farrell slams Ireland’s performance against Georgia

Nine other players were mentioned in the Tuesday morning Nations Cup update from the Ireland camp. The statement read: “Will Connors is proceeding through the graduated return to play protocols but the decision has been made not to target this weekend’s fixture.

“Keith Earls has recovered from a back spasm that affected him during the Georgia game. Conor Murray’s dead leg is being managed and he is expected to be available for selection.

“Rob Herring’s rib issue has eased and he has returned to full training. Ed Byrne is ruled out with an ongoing calf issue. Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw have re-joined full training with the squad. Harry Byrne and Eric O’Sullivan will train with the squad this week.”

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Farrell’s first year in charge of Ireland was described on Monday as an “average return” by Nucifora, the team winning five of their eight matches so far but looking inconsistent and unable to trouble England twice and France in their three away defeats.  

Farrell is contracted through to France 2023 but criticism has been mounting that he might not be head coach material following his in-house promotion from defence coach under Joe Schmidt, the previous Ireland boss.

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