O'Driscoll and Fitzgerald nearing return for Leinster
Brian O'Driscoll has taken part in his first on-field training session with Leinster since undergoing surgery on his ankle.
The Ireland captain is still some weeks away from a playing return but after Leinster's disappointment at the weekend every bit of good news is welcome.
"Brian is out there for his first onfield session and Rob Kearney is due out on the pitch next week," said Joe Schmidt.
There was further good news when Schmidt confirmed that Luke Fitzgerald is expected to make a comeback over Christmas.
"Luke is back on the pitch a while and we're looking at either the home game against Connacht in the RDS on December 29 or for the Edinburgh match away at Murrayfield the following week," revealed Schmidt.
There was also news with regard to hooker Richardt Strauss. It had been feared he had torn his cruciate ligament but a scan revealed medial ligament damage and he will now miss only four weeks. Neither Shane Jennings (shoulder) nor Isa Nacewa (forearm) are expected to be considered for Friday night's trip to Ravenhill.
"We'll take any bit of good news we can get today. It was a tough weekend but we'll move on now and having those injuries starting to clear up is a positive," added Schmidt.
Eoin O'Malley successfully came through his first outing in the province's 44-13 British & Irish Cup win over Jersey on Sunday and the centre can potentially come into the frame this week.
In another fitness boost, hooker Aaron Dundon and wing forward Dominic Ryan both came through their second successive games for the 'A' team on Sunday after recent long-term spells on the sidelines.