Lam hopes for swift Carty return to ease out-half crisis
Connacht coach Pat Lam is hopeful that Jack Carty will return to action earlier than initially expected to ease an out-half crisis as they bid for honours in both the Pro12 and the European Challenge Cup.
Confirmation yesterday that AJ MacGinty is set for four weeks on the sideline with a shoulder injury picked up in the 7-6 win over Leinster on Saturday means that Connacht are without three out-halves for the most crucial period of the season.
Craig Ronaldson, their top points scorer in the Pro12 this season with 89, is out for another three weeks with an ankle injury.
That means that academy players Shane O'Leary and Conor McKeon, neither of whom have started a Pro12 game, will take over duties for the next few weeks, starting in Belfast on Friday against Ulster.
But Lam is hopeful that Carty, out since February when he had his spleen removed after an accident while on holiday in Dubai, could be back in the next few weeks, although hardly in time for the visit of Munster to the Sportsground on April 16.
"Jack has an appointment with the surgeon in two weeks which will hopefully give him the clearance to start contact work," said Lam. "He has started training, he has put his weight back on and he has about 90pc of his strength too, and that was last week so it has probably improved a lot more."
Meanwhile, Irish prop Nathan White is doubtful after being concussesd against Leinster and he is following the return to play protocol.
But another Irish international, lock Ulan Dillane, will be available for the trip to Ulster after missing the Leinster win with a knock
Flanker Jake Heenan, who was withdrawn from that game after rolling his ankle, is being monitored and may be fit for the trip to Belfast.