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Cheika's upbeat about injuries

Leinster coach Michael Cheika rates Brian O'Driscoll, Shane Horgan and Nathan Hines as the three most doubtful players for the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Clermont-Auvergne on April 9.

"For someone like Brian, he not only needs to recover, he also needs to be refuelled to get ready for the challenge. Obviously, we are targeting the Clermont-Auvergne match for his return," said Cheika.

"We've got a good medical team of staff. We are pretty confident he is going to be there. I definitely wouldn't be negative about it. I am a big believer in the power of positive thought."

There is a growing list of players in the casualty ward with Connacht, Munster and Clermont looming as three quick, difficult tests for a champion squad well equipped to deal with whatever comes their way.

Kevin McLaughlin (shoulder), Shaun Berne (Achilles), Gordon D'Arcy (groin), Nathan Hines (knee) and Horgan (foot) have also been in the treatment room.

"The list goes on. It is not drastic. It happens in professional contact sport," said Cheika.

Ireland wing Horgan and Scotland lock Hines are deemed the two most serious concerns, besides O'Driscoll, as Leinster look to maintain their challenge on two fronts -- in the Magners League and Heineken Cup.

"It has been about finding the cause with Shane. We feel we now have a handle on it. We hope to have him back within the next two weeks. There may also be a bit of an issue in that he hasn't played for a while

"We require him to have the proper preparation before we can unleash him into a real match situation," he revealed.

Scotland lock Hines is dealing with the misfortune of "an old knee injury flaring up during the Six Nations".


The current injury difficulties should open the door for some of the younger players against Connacht in the Magners League on Saturday.

The success of the Ireland U20s in winning the Six Nations means captain Rhys Ruddock and Andrew Conway are "likely" to play against The Westerners.

"We've had a good response from our younger players this year. It is part of the culture we are trying to build that we want them to take the responsibility," said Cheika.

There is also the sense that the Australian will not have to work too hard to finds a motivating factor for his players. He has a long and unforgiving memory.

"There was a pretty poignant moment last season where, after they beat us, the coach came out and said they targeted the Leinster fixture," said Cheika. "We have to react to that.

Leinster (squad v Connacht) -- Forwards: L Cullen, J Fogarty, N Hines, T Hogan, B Jackman, S Jennings, S Keogh, R McCormack, M O'Kelly, M Ross, R Ruddock, P Ryan, E Sheriff, R Strauss, D Toner, CJ van der Linde, S Wright. Backs: S Berne, A Conway, G Dempsey, C Keane, D Kearney, R Kearney, M Keating, S Keogh, I Madigan, F McFadden, I Nacewa, P O'Donohoe, E O'Malley, E Reddan, J Sexton.