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Joey Carbery comeback on track but 'there was a fair bit of damage' to injured ankle


Munster's Joey Carber (Brian Lawless/PA)

Munster's Joey Carber (Brian Lawless/PA)

Munster's Joey Carber (Brian Lawless/PA)

Joey Carbery is on track with his return from an ankle injury, but Munster remain very reluctant to put a time-frame on his comeback.

The out-half hasn't featured since the World Cup after suffering the initial setback during Ireland's warm-up win over Italy back in August.

Munster's attack coach Stephen Larkham confirmed that Carbery had done significant damage to his ankle and reiterated Johann van Graan's view that he will be given all the time he needs to fully recover.

Carbery will once again miss out this weekend when Racing 92 come to Thomond Park for a mouthwatering Champions Cup showdown.

"(He is) Progressing really well," Larkham said in Limerick today.

"The way I understand it is, we are going to take it slow because there was a fair bit of damage there.

"He had a really good week last week, which is not to say it's going happen again this week.

"Everything is on track for the timeline that we had given him in the first place.

"He's not playing this weekend, he's not ready. We'll reassess him next week to see how he goes and likewise the following week."

JJ Hanrahan and Rhys Marshall are in a race to be fit for this weekend as both player step up their recoveries from respective injuries.

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Hanrahan damaged his hamstring in the win over Ulster a fortnight ago and missed last week's win over the Ospreys, as did Rhys Marshall who is nursing a knee injury.

"Our injury list at the moment is actually pretty good, there's only five guys on the injury list," Larkham maintained.

"Touch wood we keep those numbers pretty low throughout the rest of the season.

"JJ and Rhys are fully reintegrated back into training today, but it's the back end of their rehab programme, so we need to make sure that they come through today and then come through Thursday before they are considered for selection this weekend."

Munster confirmed on Monday that Alby Mathewson will depart the club after the Racing game and Larkham paid tribute to the Kiwi scrum-half, who made a big impact on the club in his 15-month stay.

"It's a sad moment really for everyone here and obviously for Alby," Larkham admitted.

"We knew when we signed him that this was going to eventuate at some stage, it's just disappointing that it's happening right now.

"He has been a massive contributor to the team. His on field performances have been amazing. He has played for the All Blacks and you can see why. He consistently performs week-in, week-out.

"The biggest thing we are going to miss here is just his contribution to the young nines who we have got coming though.

"He is an excellent coach off the field. He is a super competitive person and that rubs off on everyone.

"But it is the work that he does behind the scenes with the nines, it will be more than missed within the organisation."

Simon Zebo is set for an emotional return to Thomond Park on Saturday and while Larkham acknowledged the Cork native's quality, he warned against the dangers of focusing on just one player.

"He is a good player, he has scored more tries than any other Munster player," the Australian added.

"He is a talented player with ball in hand, on the back of a very talented backline.

"The challenge this week is not trying to find one person and target him, it's to make sure that we are covering all bases and like I said, he is a very talented player, but we have got to respect everyone in that back-line."

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