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).
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