Earls in line for return to soften O'Mahony blow
PETER O'MAHONY has been ruled out of Munster's rematch with the Scarlets next weekend, but the province are optimistic Keith Earls will be available to play.
Earls has been out of action since injuring his knee in the Pro12 defeat by Leinster on November 4 but is expected to return to full training this week and will be pushing for inclusion in the back three or in midfield for Sunday's Heineken Cup clash in Thomond Park.
O'Mahony, who was substituted at half-time in Munster's 17-14 win over the Welsh side at Parc y Scarlets last Saturday, has sustained a hairline fracture to his jaw and is expected to be out for a fortnight.
This means a likely call-up for Denis Leamy, who has been in superb form since returning from the World Cup and had a big impact off the bench in Wales.
The other option for coach Tony McGahan would be to switch Donnacha Ryan to blindside flanker and start Donncha O'Callaghan in the second-row, which would cater for the loss of O'Mahony's height in the line-out.
Either way, Munster are in the driving seat in Pool 1 after their third Heineken Cup victory on the bounce -- their 13th in a row against the Scarlets.
"Nobody will give us a hope in hell of winning at Thomond Park, but we have proven in the past we can go away and win big games in the Heineken Cup," said Scarlets captain Matthew Rees.
"We just have to go with the right attitude and commitment. We have got to block out the crowd and just play what is in front of us.
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"We just need to look back at the Northampton game. We went up there, chucked everything at them and came away with a great result. There is no reason why we can't do that again."