Reddan return for Leinster can strengthen Ireland's hand
Ireland scrum-half Eoin Reddan could play his way back into the Ireland squad when he makes his expected return to action for Leinster this weekend.
The Limerick native injured his medial knee ligament during last month's Champions Cup draw against Wasps and despite linking up with the national squad during the opening two weeks of the Six Nations campaign, he has not yet featured for Ireland.
However, he is expected to make his comeback for Leinster against Zebre on Friday night and a strong performance could see him leapfrog his provincial team-mate Isaac Boss - an unused replacement against France last weekend - in the pecking order.
Gordon D'Arcy and Fergus McFadden trained with Leinster at UCD yesterday, while Dave Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald remained in Ireland camp which may be significant given Felix Jones - who has been on the bench for Ireland in both of the Six Nations games to date - was released back to Munster. Both could yet feature against the English.
Springbok Zane Kirchner is also back this week for Leinster; but concussed trio Richardt Strauss, Tom Denton and Noel Reid will miss Friday's game. Rhys Ruddock trained yesterday, but is not yet ready for his comeback from a broken arm.
Munster trio Jones, Tommy O'Donnell and Ian Keatley are among those released by the national management for game-time this weekend, while Ulster are hoping to have Iain Henderson available this weekend.
Meanwhile, Connacht will be without Kieran Marmion for their pivotal meeting with the Dragons after the scrum-half sustained a shoulder injury against Scarlets last weekend.
The Ireland scrum-half is only due to miss one game and should return in time for the westerners' meeting with Treviso on Sunday week. Out-half Craig Ronaldson is back for this week's game.
Former Connacht scrum-half Frank Murphy has been promoted to the IRFU's national panel of referees less than a year after he retired from the professional game at the end of last season.
He will take charge of his first Ulster Bank League game on Saturday when Armagh take on Bruff on Saturday week.
"Refereeing was initially a way of staying involved in the game," he said. "I'm enjoying it and still just trying to find my feet but it has been an enjoyable experience."
Former Ireland Women's international Joy Neville is another new face on the refereeing scene and she has been promoted to the inter-provincial appointments system.