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Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Fergus McFadden to win first Ireland cap against Italy

2011 Six Nations Championship - Italy v Ireland
Venue: Stadio Flaminio Date: Saturday, 5 February Kick-off: 1430 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One from 1400; Listen on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and Radio Ulster 1341 medium wave; Live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles


Leinster's Fergus McFadden will make his Ireland debut against Italy
Leinster's Fergus McFadden will make his Ireland debut against Italy

Winger Fergus McFadden will make his Ireland debut and Leinster team-mate Mike Ross gets his first Six Nations start against Italy on Saturday.

McFadden will play in a new back three combination with Keith Earls on the left wing and Luke Fitzgerald at full-back for the first time.

Tomas O'Leary, left out of the original squad, returns at scrum-half after missing the autumn series with injury.

Hooker Rory Best and second row Paul O'Connell are also back in the team.

Lions captain O'Connell makes his first Test appearance since the 2010 Six Nations, having recovered from a groin problem.

Back-three options Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney, Geordan Murphy and Shane Horgan are all out injured, paving the way for 24-year-old McFadden.

Jamie Heaslip and Stephen Ferris - widely regarded as Ireland's best performers last autumn - are injured so Munster's Denis Leamy starts at blind-side flanker.

Ireland's Stephen Ferris talks about his injuries

Leinster's in-form Sean O'Brien is selected at number eight with open-side David Wallace completing the back row.

In total there are nine changes to the side that ended the autumn with a record victory against Argentina.

McFadden is keen to make an impression on his debut.

"I feel my progress this season has been quite good," he said.

"When I was moved to the wing at Leinster I felt I was doing a job. Declan has backed me and I cannot wait to go on Saturday.

"I want to do the basics well and if I get a one-on-one I like to back myself."

Italy have named Kristopher Burton at fly-half, and he will line up alongside Benetton Treviso team-mate Edoardo Gori, who wins his third cap at scrum-half.

Burton is awarded his fifth cap and is selected ahead of Luciano Orquera, who started two of Italy's autumn internationals.

Alberto Sgarbi is included after a strong start to the season with Treviso, and he will start at inside centre, with Andrea Masi moved out to the wing.

In the forwards, captain Sergio Parisse has allayed fears that a dislocated finger would keep him out of action and starts at number eight.

The game will be Parisse's first Six Nations game since 2009 after he missed the entire 2010 championship with a knee injury.

Joining him in the pack is Racing Metro Paris second row Santiago Dellape, who returns to the team and wins his 61st cap after impressing in France's Top 14.


Ireland: L Fitzgerald (Leinster), F McFadden (Leinster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, captain), G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster), J Sexton (Leinster), T O'Leary (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), D Leamy (Munster), D Wallace (Munster), S O'Brien (Leinster).

Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Court (Ulster), L Cullen (Leinster), S Jennings (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster), P Wallace (Ulster).

Italy: L McLean; A Masi, G Canale, A Sgarbi, M Bergamasco; K Burton, E Gori; S Perugini, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni; S Dellape, Q Geldenhuys; J Sole, A Zanni, S Parisse (capt).

Replacements: F Ongaro, A Lo Cicero, C del Fava, V Bernabo, P Canavosio, L Orquera, G Garcia.



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see also
Ferris adds to Irish injury woes
29 Jan 11 |  Irish
Bowe added to Ireland injury list
26 Jan 11 |  Irish
Ireland trio to miss Italy clash
25 Jan 11 |  Irish
McCarthy named in Ireland squad
19 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Murphy could miss rest of season
13 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union


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