James Ryan 'flying' through recovery in boost for Leinster and Ireland

Leinster boss Leo Cullen revealed that the second row is already running and lifting weights.

JAMES RYAN COULD be fit for Leinster’s Champions Cup quarter-final clash with Saracens in September after his head coach, Leo Cullen, revealed that the second row is already around halfway through his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery.

Ryan is now back running and lifting weights in the gym, with Cullen saying the 24-year-old is “flying it,” news that will be greeted positively by Ireland supporters too.

The second row is set to be fully fit to feature for Andy Farrell’s side in a busy schedule of Tests this autumn.

james-ryan Ryan is already well into his recovery from shoulder surgery. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

On Monday, Leinster had reported that Ireland lock Ryan would be out of action for 10 to 12 weeks after suffering a shoulder injury in pre-season training. 

That timeline would have meant Ryan missing the conclusion of Leinster’s 2019/20 season, including their European quarter-final clash with Sarries at the Aviva Stadium on 19 September and any further knock-out games if the province progressed.

However, Cullen clarified yesterday that Ryan has already completed around half of that recovery timeframe and is therefore in line for a return to fitness in September.  

That means Ryan is also set to be firing again in time for Ireland’s rescheduled Six Nations fixtures against Italy and France in October, as well as their ‘Eight Nations’ games in November and December.

“We were back for a block [of pre-season training] and he got injured in that first block and we took a break,” explained Cullen at an event to support AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity & Advocacy Organisation.

“He had a procedure straight away but he is well on his way, so I’m not sure exactly is he maybe five or six weeks in, I’d have to check that exactly… I think five.

“He is making really good progress, he is flying it. He’s running and lifting in the gym, so making good progress.”

Ryan’s swift recovery so far is a real boost for Leinster and Ireland ahead of what will be a hectic schedule of rugby in the coming months.

291 Aviva and AsIAm launch sensory kit bags_90605096 Leo Cullen at the launch of Aviva Ireland's partnership with AsIAm to give away 1,000 back-to-school packs to autistic children throughout Ireland. Source: Photocall Ireland

Less positively, Cullen reported that Leinster wing Adam Byrne is only due to undergo surgery on his hamstring injury this week, with a 12-week recovery timeframe anticipated after that procedure.

“Adam picked up that injury initially when we were in the lockdown period,” said Cullen. “When you are not having that physical contact, you are not sure what people are doing in terms of the programme.

“With technology and GPS, we can track guys, but we don’t have eyes on them all the time. It can be a bit more of a challenge to manage the load. He is going to have a procedure done on his hamstring. Because he hasn’t been done straight away, his clock is starting a little later than James, who is really on his way.”

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Loosehead prop Peter Dooley has already had shoulder surgery and hopes to be back in training in the next fortnight, but there are real concerns for 24-year-old tighthead Vakh Abdaladze, who has had a recurrence of the back injury he suffered with last season.

Having unexpectedly lost Roman Salanoa to Munster this summer and with Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter set to be heavily involved with Ireland as usual, Leinster’s tighthead depth could be tested in the months ahead.

34-year-old Michael Bent is still part of the squad, while academy prop Tom Clarkson is highly-rated but has no senior experience.

Having suffered a recurrence of his back injury, Abdaladze is now seeking further medical opinion before he and Leinster decide on the latest course of rehabilitation.

“Vakh is being incredibly slow so there’s a huge amount of uncertainty,” said Cullen. “We’re always looking for clarity on injuries and that’s one that’s kind of drifted along now.

“I’m being very vague here because I don’t honestly know what the answer is but we’re doing everything for Vakh and we’ll try and get him fixed up but it’s very uncertain at the moment.”

vakh-abdaladze Vakh Abdaladze is struggling with a back injury. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Happily, Dan Leavy’s recovery from a serious knee injury in 2019 is progressing as he continues to integrate gradually into team training but Cullen underlined that rushing him back would be foolish.

“We’re dying to see him back playing at this stage but it’s so important to emphasise that it’s baby steps so we’re not setting him up to fail when he does come back.

“So we’ll be patient. Dan’s worked incredibly hard and to get back to this point where he is, training back with the lads on the field and we’ll see how he goes in the next couple of weeks as we start to ramp that up.”

Leo Cullen was speaking at the launch of Aviva Ireland’s partnership with AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity & Advocacy Organisation, to give away 1,000 back-to-school packs to autistic children throughout Ireland.

The back-to-school packs alongside weekly online content is specially designed to keep children stimulated and active in line with their sensory needs, and act as a lifeline for parents, who have been home schooling since March.

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Murray Kinsella

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