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Huge boost for Connacht's play-off hopes as Carty passed fit after injury scare

The out-half is available to face Zebre this weekend.

Carty in Connacht training at the Sportsground yesterday.
Carty in Connacht training at the Sportsground yesterday.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

CONNACHT’S PLAY-OFF drive in the Pro14 has been handed a significant boost with the return of out-half Jack Carty to training following an arm injury in time for this weekend’s clash with Zebre in Parma.

The in-form out-half forced his way into the Ireland Six Nations squad on the back of a series of excellent displays for Connacht but was forced off during last weekend’s Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to Sale Sharks.

But Carty is in line to start against the Italians on Saturday, and with three games remaining in the Pro14, Connacht will hope to maintain their third-place position, which will guarantee them a play-off position.

“Jack is fine and trained fully today,” Carolan said on Tuesday. “It was like a dead leg, just with a bicep. His power was down and we didn’t want him to take another bang and risk him for this weekend as well. He trained fully today and he is good to go for the weekend.

“On the two occasions we played them last season Michael Bradley said we let them off the hook by not playing Jack. His tactical kicking game is one of the best around and he can really punish teams that defend with their wingers as high as Zebre do.

“When we didn’t play him last year, it was a relief for Michael Bradley and we hope not to make it as comfortable for him this weekend.”

Connacht are facing a possible issue at tighthead this weekend with Finlay Bealham definitely ruled out with a lacerated hand, while back-up Dominic Robertson McCoy is suffering with back spasms.

Despite receiving the all clear already, Bealham will undergo further scans today on his injured hand and according to Carolan he could be sidelined for the next two games.

Nigel Carolan Nigel Carolan speaking to media yesterday. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“The initial assessment showed no internal or ligament damage. He has a scan this evening (TUES) just to root around a little bit more and suss out what is the extent. It was quite an open wound and quite sore, but it turns out it wasn’t that bad.

“He had 14 stitches across his hand; if you’d seen the image of it, it was pretty ugly. It was like a shark bite. They will root around a little more today. Some of the consultants reckon it would not be possible to not have some sort of internal damage. We’ll see what the extent of that is this evening.

“He was never going to be in contention for this weekend, but he should be touch and go for selection the following week. We’re optimistic for Munster in three weeks time.”

Carolan also confirmed that both Bundee Aki and Quinn Roux will not be available for this weekend’s clash, but that this week will complete their down-time as part of the player welfare programme, and the duo have a clear run for the remainder of the season.

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Declan Rooney

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