Ireland name O'Connell in summer tour squad
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell has been included in a 33-man squad for this summer's tour of Australia and New Zealand despite having been a major doubt with a groin injury.
The Munster lock has not played since his country's final RBS 6 Nations match on March 20 and has been receiving intravenous antibiotics in a Cork hospital, but has been deemed fit enough to take his place in Declan Kidney's squad.
Stephen Ferris, though, misses out with a broken cheekbone sustained in training earlier this month, while fellow back-rower Denis Leamy and back Luke Fitzgerald are ruled out by knee problems.
Fitzgerald has missed the majority of the current season after suffering his injury against Australia during the autumn internationals.
The squad contains three uncapped players, with Ulster back-rower Chris Henry and lock Dan Tuohy adding cover in the pack and Leinster centre Fergus McFadden also included. The trio were all named in Kidney's initial training squad ahead of this year's Six Nations.
McFadden joins provincial colleague Kevin McLaughlin in reaping the rewards of an impressive Magners League campaign, and will provide cover for captain Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy in midfield.
In a blog for sponsors O2 earlier this week, O'Connell wrote of his recovery process: "I was originally given a heavy dose of oral antibiotics but after another scan last Wednesday week, the antibiotics were administered by intravenous drip: three times a day for 20 minutes. You always associate hospitals with being sick and I don't feel that way, which is unsettling.
"I have been extraordinarily well looked after in the Bon Secours (Hospital) and had plenty of visitors, but I miss home. The doctors are pretty confident that if I maintain the current course that progress will be appreciable."
Ireland's programme begins against the Barbarians at Thomond Park on June 4 before they fly out to New Zealand to face the All Blacks in New Plymouth on June 12. They will then turn out on June 18 as part of New Zealand Maoris' centenary celebrations before facing Australia on June 26 in Brisbane.
The latter clash will provide valuable preparation for next year's World Cup, where they will meet the Wallabies in Pool C.
Ireland squad to tour Australia and New Zealand:
Forwards: R Best (Ulster), T Buckley (Munster), T Court (Ulster), S Cronin (Connacht), J Flannery (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster), C Henry (Ulster), M Horan (Munster), S Jennings (Leinster), K McLaughlin (Leinster), J Muldoon (Connacht), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), M O'Driscoll (Munster), D Tuohy (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster).
Backs: T Bowe (Ospreys), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), S Horgan (Leinster), R Kearney (Leinster), F McFadden (Leinster), G Murphy (Leicester), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), R O'Gara (Munster), T O'Leary (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster, P Stringer (Munster), A Trimble (Ulster), P Wallace (Ulster).
The muddy truth of the Christmas Truce game
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny announce engagement
Manchester United vs Newcastle United preview: Alan Pardew targets rare Old Trafford win to halt Newcastle slump
Arsenal vs QPR: Leroy Fer seeks perfect present for Boxing Day
Jose Mourinho on Sir Alex Ferguson: 'A good friend, a good person, a fantastic sense of humour. I like him very, very much'
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 3 The Grace Dent Christmas Questionnaire
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader