Rugby: Injured Gordon D'Arcy's World Cup hanging in the balance

IRELAND manager Paul McNaughton rates Gordon D'Arcy's chances of travelling to the World Cup as "tight".

D'Arcy underwent surgery in June on the right ankle injury he sustained in Leinster's Heineken Cup final victory over Northampton and is still in rehabilitation. The clock is ticking for the Lions centre with Ireland departing for New Zealand on 30 August and McNaughton admits his participation is in doubt.

"Gordon is tight to make the World Cup. He recovers quickly and is running while bearing his full weight, so is making progress," he said. "With these type of injuries, a week can tell us a lot."

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The likelihood of Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris, who is struggling with a knee problem, being fit for the World Cup is also shrouded in uncertainty.

McNaughton hopes the duo will compete in the latter stages of Ireland's warm-up campaign, which opens against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Brian O'Driscoll is another player who is unlikely to figure in the opening fixtures of Ireland's five-match tune-up series, which comprises of meetings with Scotland, France home and away, Connacht and England. "Brian has been doing 80 per cent of the work over the last two weeks. I'm not too concerned," said McNaughton. "He has a problem with his shoulder/neck and has been having some traction on it. He's doing everything except contact this week, but is unlikely to play in the first two games." There was more encouraging news on hooker Jerry Flannery and full-backs Rob Kearney and Geordan Murphy, all three of whom are available to face Scotland following lengthy lay-offs. "Flannery (calf], Kearney (knee] and Murphy (ankle] are ready to go. They were involved in contact last week and are ready for game time," said McNaughton. "In general the injury situation has been getting better over the last couple of weeks."

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