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Ireland, French club at odds over severity of Sexton's thumb injury

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DUBLIN - Ireland and French club Racing Metro are at odds over flyhalf Jonathan Sexton's thumb injury.

Sexton hurt thumb ligaments in Ireland's 13-10 loss to England on Saturday in the Six Nations.

Laurent Labit, his Racing Metro coach, said on Thursday the injury may require Sexton being sidelined for "between 10 days and six weeks."

That would rule Sexton out of at least Ireland's next Six Nations match, against Italy at home in nine days.

Ireland released a statement hours later confirming the injury, but saying Sexton "does not warrant surgery," and if he "continues his current rate of improvement we would be confident that he will be available for selection against Italy."

The Irish medical team brought in a "consultant hand specialist" to check Sexton and his scans.

Coach Joe Schmidt was reported to be considering resting Sexton for the Italy game, anyway. As backup, Ireland have Paddy Jackson and Ian Madigan.

Ireland close the tournament against France in Paris a week after playing Italy. Ireland, in a four-way tie for the lead, need to win both games to win the Six Nations likely on points difference.

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