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Ireland readies as clock ticks down to World Cup

The Irish rugby took to the pampered sward of Carton house in County Kildare this week for the first in a series of training sessions in anticipation of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand a little over two months from now.

Ireland's opening Pool C match is against the USA Eagles on September 11th.

According to the Irish Times, there were some notable absentees from the 43-man training squad announced by manager Declan Kidney earlier this month, with Gordon D'Arcy perhaps the most concerning for the Irish management.

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The Leinster center had been struggling to shake off an ankle injury picked up in the Heineken Cup final win over Northampton and had surgery on the problem last week.

The 31-year-old is now expected to be sidelined for roughly six weeks, ruling him out of Ireland's first three warm-up matches in August. While he will miss the trips to Murrayfield and Bordeaux, as well as the challenge match against Connacht, the Irish medical team are confident D'Arcy could add to his tally of 57 caps when France and England come to the Aviva later in the month, the report stated.

Stephen Ferris was also excused from duty by Kidney this week as he continues to recover from the long-standing knee injury he suffered in January. The Ulster blindside wing forward is back running but will be staying away from the Ireland sessions until he is fully fit.

Brett Wilkinson, one of four uncapped players in the training squad, will have to wait to join up with the squad as the Connacht prop nurses a hamstring injury but Conor Murray, Felix Jones and Mike McCarthy were among those assembled at the County Kildare base, the Times report added.

Ireland will play a series of warm-up games before the World Cup starting with a game against Scotland at Murrayfield on August 6.