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Dublin: 9°C Friday 23 October 2020

Carbery facing fitness battle to be fit for Munster's Champions Cup quarter

The 24-year-old’s hamstring injury has not fully healed.

Carbery trained alone at UL on Monday.
Carbery trained alone at UL on Monday.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

JOEY CARBERY FACES a fitness race to feature in Munster’s season-defining Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final with Edinburgh.

A hamstring injury meant Carbery missed Ireland’s last three Six Nations games, and after he linked up with Munster again yesterday, head coach Johann van Graan has ruled him out of this weekend’s Pro14 clash with Zebre at Thomond Park [KO 7.45pm, TG4/eir Sport].

The 24-year-old out-half is not expected to complete any on-field training this week as he rehabs with the Munster medical team, but van Graan is hopeful he will be ready to feature against Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Saturday week.

“I don’t want to speculate. I hope that he’ll be back for next week’s game. It’s a bit early to say whether I expect him to be back, I really hope he’s back,” the Munster head coach said yesterday. 

“He’s going to be with our medical team this week and hopefully we can get him into some rugby this week or next week.

“He’s not ready to train on the pitch at this stage. He’s in a very good mental space and hopefully, he’ll be back on the pitch soon.

“He is a very important player in our wheel at this stage. His goal kicking and the energy that he brings, he is a player that made a big difference to our team so we really hope he is going to be ready for Edinburgh.”

Defeat to Scarlets in their final game before the two-week break meant Munster slipped behind Glasgow in the battle for top spot in Conference A, but their hopes of a win against Zebre have been boosted by the return of some of Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad.

It is expected that as many as five of the internationals — including Tadhg Beirne — could feature at some stage this weekend, while Chris Farrell, who wasn’t involved in the last three Ireland games, has also returned to the fold.

“We’ll take it case by case,” Van Graan continued. “Joey and Chris Farrell are in today. Obviously, they weren’t involved over the weekend. Tomorrow there’ll be four or five guys joining back up. Next Monday the rest of the guys will be back.

Johann van Graan Johann van Graan speaking to media yesterday. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“There is a good chance that Chris will play this weekend. He hasn’t played now for a few weeks, he played quite a lot of games when he came back to us against the Kings. All things being equal there is a possibility he’ll be in the 23.

“Possibly Tadhg (will feature). He’ll only be in tomorrow because he played on Saturday night. They only returned from Wales yesterday. We’ll have a chat to him and look where his body is at, and where his mind is at.”

Squad members John Ryan and Andrew Conway didn’t feature in the Ireland loss to Wales, while CJ Stander played three of the five games and could appear this weekend, but the Munster coach is keen to assess each player on their own merits before handing them a return to action.

“One of the things I learned from last season is that you have to treat it case by case,” he added.

“The only thing you’ve got to remember is that all of these international players, straight off the Exeter game they left for the Six Nations. They haven’t played every week, but if they haven’t played, they’ve trained every week.

“It’s also where they are mentally. A 10-week block coming up, it’s about the management of every individual.

“I think it’s important that they’re mentally fresh and ready to go, that they’ve regrouped. We’ve been in communication with all of the lads during the Six Nations and everybody is keen to come back and look forward to the rest of the season with Munster.”

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Declan Rooney

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