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Fitzgerald and Reddan ready to launch Leinster out of blocks

Published 24/07/2013 | 05:00

Leinster's Leo Auva'a, Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross show the strain as they go through their paces during pre-season at UCD
Leinster's Leo Auva'a, Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross show the strain as they go through their paces during pre-season at UCD
Luke Fitzgerald is set to make a welcome return for Leinster

LUKE FITZGERALD and Eoin Reddan are on track to return to Leinster colours at the start of the season in a boost to new coach Matt O'Connor.

The Australian oversaw training at UCD yesterday as preparations for the new campaign continued apace – their opening pre-season fixture is now less than a month away.

While that friendly visit to the new-look Ravenhill to face Ulster may come too soon for Fitzgerald and Reddan, who missed the end of last season after picking up injuries during the Six Nations, the duo are expected to return for the beginning of competitive action in September.

Gordon D'Arcy is also training with the squad, but his schedule is behind his team-mates after a calf injury prematurely ended his season.

Leinster's five Lions – Brian O'Driscoll, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney and Cian Healy – have yet to return from holidays, while Springbok Zane Kirchner will join up at the end of the Super Rugby season in South Africa.

All of the players involved in Ireland's summer tour are back in camp, while new signings Jimmy Gopperth and Mike McCarthy have joined up with the squad.

The presence of a fit Fitzgerald will be key to O'Connor's plans early in the season after the retirement of Isa Nacewa and the departures of Andrew Conway to Munster and Fionn Carr to Connacht.

The 2009 Lion has been in the wars since the 2010 November internationals and will be praying for a clean run of games this season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament against Italy last March.

Reddan, meanwhile, broke his ankle in the Six Nations draw with France and will come back to battle Isaac Boss and John Cooney for the No 9 jersey.

Leinster kick off their Pro12 campaign against the Scarlets on September 6.

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