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©INPHO/Billy Stickland Doug Howlett and Simon Zebo are crucial for Munster's cup chances.
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Heineken Cup: Zebo and Howlett may be 'game day' decisions for Munster
Donnacha Ryan and Conor Murray are expected to return but there are concern over the wing positions.

MUNSTER BACKS COACH Simon Mannix admits captain Doug Howlett and winger Simon Zebo may be game-day decisions for the Heineken Cup quarter final against Harlequins.

Munster should welcome back Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray and Donnacha Ryan but there are injury doubts over the province’s first-choice wingers.

“Dougie has a bit of a shoulder and knee injury,” revealed head coach Rob Penney. “We’ll do a physical assessment at the end of the week.

Zeebs is still making progress but we won’t make a call on him until the end of the week. It’s early days for him.”

Mannix added, “We’ll give them as long as possible to get right and call it on the day.”

Howlett spoke to the media at Munster’s midweek press briefing but offered no further clues on his fitness other than his hope to make the starting line-up.

Dark place

Penney insisted that his players would not carry any baggage into Sunday’s game at the Twickenham Stoop following a 51-24 league humbling by Glasgow Warriors.

He said, “Good players made mistakes that they normally wouldn’t make but they’re better than that.”

The New Zealander added, “There’s still a bit of residual darkness around with some guys but we’re moving on.”

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Mannix believes Conor O’Shea’s side will bring a robust challenge to the table but is calling on Munster, set for their 14th cup quarter final, to show their famous fighting spirit. He said:

That absolute desire and that willingness to go that extra yard to get a result, that is a trait that’s sat very well with Munster over the years. We’ll be looking for this generation of Munster players to do likewise.”

Howlett, if he does feature this weekend, will keep a close eye on his former All Black teammate, ‘Quins outhalf Nick Evans.

“8, 9, 10 – that’s their nerve-centre,” said Howlett. “They drive the team around the pitch very well.

“My old mate Nick Evans there, he runs a good ship. He’s certainly one to watch… He can kick penalties from all over the place.”

Zebo, this afternoon, tweeted this picture of himself and forward Sean Dougall from the Munster physio room:

* will be liveblogging all the action at The Stoop from 1:30pm on Sunday

- Reporting by Aoife Danagher. Follow her on Twitter here.

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