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Jamie Heaslip battling for fitness as Zane Kirchner ruled out of action for a month

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Leinster's Jamie Heaslip

Leinster's Jamie Heaslip

SPORTSFILE

Leinster's Jamie Heaslip

Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip could make the crucial Champions Cup encounter with Castres this weekend, but Zane Kirchner has been ruled out for up to four weeks.

Matt O'Connor's menĀ  are preparing for the defining fortnight of their European campaign, questing not merely a quarter-final berth but a money-spinning Dublin tie too.

Heaslip hasn't played since exiting against Ulster in the first Pro12 outing of the new year - his first injury-enforced departure since late 2010 - and after suffering significant damage to his AC shoulder joint.

The number 8 trained yesterday and again today and is being monitored closely as he recovers from the knock he took against Ulster in the PRO12. A final decision on his participation will not be taken until later in the week but he has trained with the squad as normal.

The news on South African utility player Kirchner was not so positive however. He suffered what was initially thought was bone bruising to his shin in the game against Ulster. However having reported further discomfort yesterday morning, a further scan revealed a small fracture which will rule him out of action for four weeks.

Flanker Rhys Ruddock is expected to be out for a similar time frame after surgery on his forearm, while Shane Jennings is expected to be available for selection this weekend. Kevin McLaughlin is now out of his sling and is continuing his recovery from shoulder surgery.

Leinster confirmed today that a final decision on whether or not to appeal Jack McGrath's three week suspension will be taken at a meeting this evening. The outcome of this decision will be communicated to media tomorrow ahead of the 5pm appeal deadline.

Online Editors