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Dent to Cronin's Six Nations hopes as Munster prop sidelined for a month

Donnacha Ryan is expected back in training next week.

MUNSTER SAY LOOSEHEAD prop James Cronin will be sidelined for approximately a month after he suffered an ankle injury in the Guinness Pro12 defeat to Leinster last weekend.

James Cronin on the attack Cronin has been playing superbly for Munster. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The 25-year-old has been in exceptional form for the province, impressing with his scrummaging, aggressive ball carrying, ruck work, clever ball handling and defensive work rate.

Indeed, Munster coach Anthony Foley has been picking Cronin ahead of the 15-times capped Ireland international Dave Kilcoyne.

Former Ballincollig, Highfield and Dolphin front row Cronin had looked on course for involvement in Ireland’s Six Nations campaign, which begins against Wales on 7 February in Dublin.

However, this badly-timed ankle injury deprives the Cork man of further opportunities to impress Joe Schmidt in the coming weeks. While he should be fit again for the start of the Six Nations, the lack of game time may be a concern for the Ireland coach.

Cronin has already won two caps under the Kiwi, making his debut on the 2014 tour to Argentina and then featuring off the bench against Italy in last season’s Six Nations.

Munster say Cronin’s ankle ligament injury will keep him out of action for approximately four weeks, but he will hope to heal as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, there was positive news for the province and Schmidt in the results of Donnacha Ryan’s knee scan.

The Tipperary man is set to return to training next week, having injured his knee in the defeat to Leinster. After Paul O’Connell’s retirement and with Iain Henderson injured, Ryan will be targeting a starting role for Ireland in the Six Nations.

Munster have listed Keith Earls among their injured players, without providing any clarity on the extent of his neck issue. The Ireland back was stretchered off last weekend and taken to hospital in Limerick, but was released the same evening.

Munster’s injured senior players: Stephen Archer (neck), Duncan Casey (pec), Andrew Conway (hip), James Cronin (ankle), Sean Doyle (back), Keith Earls (neck), Dave Foley (dead leg), Dave O’Callaghan (adductor), Peter O’Mahony (ACL), Conor Murray (hip pointer), Donnacha Ryan (knee), Cathal Sheridan (calf).

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Murray Kinsella

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