Rugby Union

Stuart McCloskey in line for Ireland call as Jared Payne misses training again

Ulster's Stuart McCloskey could be set for his Ireland debut

STUART McCloskey could be set to make his Ireland debut against England on Saturday after Jared Payne again sat out training this afternoon.

There have been calls for centre Payne to switch to full-back and make way for McCloskey, whose powerful displays for Ulster in Europe caught the eye pre-Christmas.

However, a hamstring injury suffered during the first half of the defeat by France in Paris looks set to scupper Payne’s hopes of playing in Twickenham.

He managed to complete the 80 minutes at the Stade de France, though that was in part owing to the lack of replacement options as Fergus McFadden had already been introduced in place of the injured Dave Kearney.

If Payne is ruled out, it’s expected that McCloskey will be given the nod to start alongside Robbie Henshaw, who will move to number 13.

23-year-old McCloskey was not included in the 23 for either the draw with Wales or the game in Paris, but was held back from Ulster duty in their defeat by Scarlets at the weekend.

Fellow Ulsterman Luke Marshall could also come into contention in midfield for the tie with unbeaten England.

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