Leo Cullen hoping to have Sean O'Brien fit for the start of Leinster's Champions Cup defence
Leinster will be without Sean O'Brien for the start of the season as the Tullow native's injury frustrations continue, but Leo Cullen is hopeful that he will return in time for the beginning of his side's Champions Cup defence.
O'Brien only managed to play six games last season and he is likely to miss at least the first four of the new campaign as he continues his comeback from shoulder surgery.
Joe Schmidt will also be hopeful that the flanker can overcome his nightmare season in time to play a role in what is a huge season for Ireland that sees the World Cup looming large.
Another pair of Leinster's flankers, Josh van der Flier (knee) and Dan Leavy (sternum) are also hoping to return around the same time as O'Brien.
"Seanie is making good progress," Cullen said.
"He won't start the season but he'll be back in the first few rounds I hope. I say few, let's call it four to five rounds, during that period.
"He's a couple of issues going on, that's just the nature of the game as well. Seanie is working hard, we'll wait and see when he comes back.
"The way he plays, he's had some bangs over the years. There's no guarantees for anyone, but I hope he gets a good run when he's back.
"Josh van der Flier and Dan Leavy are in a similar enough scenario. They'll all return in say a three-week window.
"We have six PRO14 games, the likelihood is those three guys will feature at some stage during those games, when exactly that will be will depend on how they progress over the next few weeks but they're all on track to be back prior to Europe.
"Fergus McFadden had that injury against Scarlets in the semi-final scoring that try. He's been a little bit slower than we anticipated initially but he's getting close. He didn't play last week."
Cullen is keen to move on from the Joey Carbery debacle, adding: "I think it's unfair for me to talk about him because there's all sorts of different pressures that go on, things that go on behind the scenes, so he's just one of a number of players that have come through the Leinster system that are now playing at other provinces."