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Cloete nears injury comeback for Munster, but concern over scrum-half Cronin

The flanker has been sidelined with arm and groin injuries since February.

MUNSTER’S CHRIS CLOETE is entering the final stages of his long-awaited injury comeback after being given the green light to return to team training, but there are concerns for scrum-half Neil Cronin. 

Forced off with a shoulder injury in Friday’s Guinness Pro14 defeat to Glasgow Warriors, Cronin has started a rehabilitation programme and Johann van Graan fears he could be sidelined for an extended period.  

Munster's Neil Cronin injured Cronin suffered the injury on Friday night. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

It is a particularly cruel blow for the 25-year-old after he started the season in impressive fashion having being awarded a professional contract with the province on the back of standout performances for Garryowen in the AIL. 

Cronin suffered the knock to his right shoulder when Callum Gibbins charged into a ruck and cleared the Munster nine out, one of two instances in the first-half which left Munster upset — the other being a clear-out on Sammy Arnold. 

The other casualty from the 25-10 reversal to Dave Rennie’s side was Billy Holland, who was forced off in the first period with a rib injury and the second row is being treated by Munster’s medical staff.

There was positive news for Cloete, however, as he builds up his fitness again after seven months out with a fractured forearm and then a groin problem he suffered during pre-season.

The South African flanker made a big impact for the southern province during his first year in Limerick but had his season cut short in February when he required surgery on his forearm.  

Cloete suffered a setback in his comeback last month when he pulled up in pre-season but has now returned to full team training and could boost Munster heading into next month’s inter-provincial games. 

Chris Cloete Cloete is back in training. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

There remains no timeline on Conor Murray’s return to fitness, but Munster did confirm the scrum-half has suffered a neck injury, adding he is ‘continuing to follow rehabilitation under the supervision of the medical department.’

Ahead of Friday’s Pro14 clash with Ospreys at Musgrave Park [KO 7.35pm, eir Sport, TG4], the province provided no update on long-term absentees Kevin O’Byrne (calf), Tyler Bleyendaal (neck), Conor Oliver (toe), Niall Scannell (Shoulder), Chris Farrell (knee), Liam O’Connor (knee), Jack O’Donoghue (knee), and Ronan O’Mahony (ankle). 

Meanwhile, Tipperary man Cronan Gleeson has signed a three-month development contract with Munster.

The prop trained with the senior squad throughout the pre-season period and featured in the friendly games against London Irish and Exeter Chiefs.

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Ryan Bailey

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