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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 19 February, 2019
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Johnny Sexton ruled out of Wasps clash but 'not far off at all'

Devin Toner, Robbie Henshaw and Sean O’Brien are all back in full Leinster training this week.

LEINSTER WILL BE without captain Johnny Sexton again this weekend for their Heineken Cup visit to Wasps, with the out-half still dealing with a knee tendon injury.

Sexton missed last Saturday’s home win over Toulouse due to the knee issue and Ross Byrne will again line out in Leinster’s number 10 shirt in his absence at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.

Jonathan Sexton attends the game Sexton was on the sidelines last weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Scrum-half Luke McGrath will also be missing after he was ruled out for up to eight weeks with a knee ligament injury.

More positively, Devin Toner, Robbie Henshaw and Sean O’Brien are all back in full training with the province.

Rob Kearney and Dan Leavy will be assessed by Leinster’s medical team as the week progresses but haven’t been ruled out of the Wasps game yet.

Sexton’s ongoing knee issue is likely to be a concern for Ireland too, with Joe Schmidt’s side set to open their Six Nations campaign at home against England on Saturday 2 February.

“Johnny has been rehabbing a tendon in his knee and the week’s not long enough, he just ran out of time,” said Leinster assistant coach John Fogarty. “He’s not far off at all but unfortunately for us, he’s run out of time.

“We’ve made the decision, so Ross is there to cover. For Johnny, I don’t see it being a huge issue for him going forward. He just needs to be in the right space physically so he can perform.

“That’s our focus here, we want our players to be in the best physical condition so they can perform for us and for the national team. Johnny will get himself right and will be back.”

Asked if there had been communication from Schmidt and Ireland around Sexton’s injury, given the proximity of that massive game against England, Fogarty said that such communication always exists with international players.

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton Ireland will be hoping Sexton is fit for their Six Nations opener. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Leo [Cullen] would be in constant communication with the Irish national group and Joe on players including Johnny. They’d constantly be in communication to make sure we’re doing our best bit for the players so they’re ready to play international rugby.

“That would be constant throughout the season, no more than it would be for Johnny than for anyone else.

“If Johnny was fit to play this game, he’d be playing this game. He’s not quite there, that’s what we need to make sure we’re doing – giving the best opportunity to players. If the players were all fit and healthy, they’d be playing rugby.”

Leinster say Toner [ankle], Henshaw [hamstring] and O’Brien [arm] are back in full training this week after recovering from injuries, putting them in line for possible returns to the matchday 23 this weekend.

Kearney [quad] and Leavy [calf] will be assessed as the week progresses.

“Because they’re all returning back, they’ll be assessed as the week goes,” said Fogarty. “Right now, I can’t say they’re 100% going to be picked to play, but they’re all going to take part in training and they’ll be assessed as they go along.

“You’d hope that they get through training and that they’ll all be available. That’s the hope, although it doesn’t turn out like that very often.”

Meanwhile, Fergus McFadden will return to some rugby training this week as he continues his recovery from a long-term hamstring injury, but Joe Tomane [hamstring], Nick McCarthy [foot] and Will Connors [ACL] are still sidelined.

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Murray Kinsella

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