independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

O’Driscoll and Kearney on track for January return

Ireland stars Brian O'Driscoll and Rob Kearney are in line to return for Leinster's final two Heineken Cup pool ties in January – but Luke Fitzgerald's anticipated comeback this weekend has been delayed.

O'Driscoll (right) and Kearney missed the November internationals through injury but their return to Leinster colours is not only a boost for the province's Heineken Cup defence, but also for Declan Kidney's rejuvenated Ireland side ahead of February's opening Six Nations clash against Wales.

"We will be guided by the surgeons and specialists, and as soon as they are back and ready to be fully integrated we will be delighted to include them again," Schmidt said of the pair.

O'Driscoll (ankle) and Kearney (back) had initially been expected to be available for the November series but those plans were derailed.

However, Fitzgerald's comeback has been postponed.

"Luke is in great shape," said Schmidt. "He is very sharp on his feet (in training) and it is just about waiting for the all-clear so that he can take full contact again.

"That might be one, two, three or four weeks away but I wouldn't expect it to be any more than that, if that.

"He has made really good progress and he is ahead of schedule. We got a bit excited that he might be a bit further ahead than that but unfortunately we have to be a bit patient, because he is a top-quality member of our environment."

South African second-row Quinn Roux will be out for up to four months after dislocating his shoulder during last Friday's 6-0 win in Glasgow.

Munster back-row Niall Ronan's head injury is not as bad as first feared after sustaining a challenge from Scarlets' Jake Bell, who has been cited, during Sunday's defeat in Cork.

Ulster's Rory Best is in line for a comeback in his side's back-to-back Heineken Cup clashes with Northampton next month, while captain Johann Muller is likely to return to action in this weekend's Pro12 clash against Scarlets.

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