An injury to Shane Horgan saw Henderson promoted to the bench and then Kelly was called up as cover when full-back Girvan Dempsey aggravated a groin strain on Sunday.
At the time of the team announcement yesterday (Wednesday), there were still doubts about Dempsey's availbility and although he will travel with the squad there is a strong possibility that Kelly will start against the Italians on the right wing.
Meanwhile, Ronan O'Gara was forced to withdraw from the Ireland squad, the ankle injury picked up when he was stamped on in the Celtic League final, still continuing to give the out-half trouble. He had trained last Sunday but had a re-action later that evening and the Ireland management decided not to risk him at this stage.
Ireland: Girvan Dempsey/Geordan Murphy; Geordan Murphy/John Kelly, Brian O'Driscoll capt., Kevin Maggs, Denis Hickie; David Humphreys, Peter Stringer; Reggie Corrigan, Shane Byrne, John Hayes; Gary Longwell, Malcolm O'Kelly; Victor Costello, Keith Gleeson, Anthony Foley. Replacements: Frank Sheahan, Marcus Horan, Leo Cullen, Alan Quinlan, Guy Easterby, Paul Burke, Rob Henderson.