O'Leary ready to stage his comeback for Munster after injury lay-off
Munster scrum-half Tomas O'Leary is in line to make his comeback from injury against the Dragons tomorrow night at Rodney Parade after being named in Tony McGahan's 26-man squad.
The 27-year-old Corkman hasn't played since breaking his thumb against Leinster on October 2, forcing him to miss all of Ireland's Autumn International Series.
But O'Leary has been able to take part in training in recent weeks, and is expected to feature in Wales. "A thumb injury is obviously debilitating for a scrum-half in terms of passing and core skills," said Munster team manager Shaun Payne. "But in terms of fitness it's not a problem, so he's ready to go."
O'Leary's return is good news for Munster as they are already without Peter Stringer and the injured Duncan Williams, who will be out for a further two to three weeks with a sprained ankle. Garryowen youngster Conor Murray -- who featured for 60 minutes in last Sunday's victory over the Scarlets -- is the only other scrum-half in the squad.
Elsewhere, Lifeimi Mafi is back in the mix after serving his seven-week ban for a dangerous tackle against Leinster. John Hayes and Johne Murphy are also in the squad, having being released by Declan Kidney.
In the case of Murphy, there seemed to be a slight touch of surprise that he was discharged from the Irish camp.
"He's been one of our star performers this season," said Payne. "But if national management don't require him, we will gladly take him back."
McGahan will name his team and replacements at lunchtime today and his starting XV is likely to be a strong one, despite the absence of 15 contracted players.
Of the long-term injuries, Ian Dowling is reported to be making very slow progress following an especially serious hip injury.
Felix Jones (knee) and Denis Fogarty (shoulder) are making slightly better progress, but neither is expected to be back for another two to three months.
Meanwhile, the situation regarding Jerry Flannery is still unclear. The 32-year-old hooker is sidelined with a nerve-related problem and no date has yet been set for his expected return.
According to Payne, Flannery is a major concern for the back-to-back Heineken Cup matches against the Ospreys next month.
"It's definitely a concern in that this injury seems to strike at any time and we don't know exactly what's wrong," he said.
"We are hoping he will be ready in the very near future but because of the nature of it, we simply can't give a date. It's one of those injuries that has a mind of its own."
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