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Five Munster players to miss Johann van Graan's first game through injury

The province resume their Pro14 campaign against Zebre this weekend.

Tyler Bleyendaal remains sidelined with a neck injury.
Tyler Bleyendaal remains sidelined with a neck injury.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

THE NOVEMBER BREAK hasn’t helped ease Munster’s injury problems with five players joining the province’s long-term absentees to be ruled out of this weekend’s Pro14 clash with Zebre.

New head coach Johann van Graan yesterday took charge of his first session ahead of Sunday’s game but will have limited playing resources at his disposal for the trip to Italy.

With nine players on Ireland duty, confirmation of Tyler Bleyendaal’s continued unavailability is a further setback while Duncan Williams, Tommy O’Donnell, James Cronin and Keith Earls are all also sidelined.

The province say Bleyendaal’s neck injury is ‘progressing well’ but the out-half hasn’t played since last month’s draw away to Castres

Williams is nursing a shoulder niggle and will miss the game in Parma, leaving James Hart as van Graan’s only recognisable scrum-half for the round nine clash against the Italians.

O’Donnell continues his rehab on the shoulder knock he sustained in Ireland camp in the build-up to the opening November Test against the Springboks, but his loss is offset somewhat by the return to fitness of Jack O’Donoghue.

There are, however, fears over whether Earls and Cronin will recover from their respective injuries in time to be fit for Munster’s crucial Champions Cup double-header against Leicester Tigers at the start of next month.

Earls pulled up with a hamstring injury on Ireland duty and Munster say he is ‘expected to be out for a number of weeks’ while Cronin, who tore his calf muscle playing for the Barbarians, isn’t expected to return until next month.

In addition, Gerbrandt Grobler (ankle), Conor Oliver (shoulder), Dan Goggin (knee), Dave O’Callaghan (knee), Jaco Taute (knee), Niall Scannell (thumb) all remain out for the foreseeable future.

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