Van der Flier fit again for Leinster as more Ireland internationals return to fold

The province confirmed that scrum-half Nick McCarthy will be sidelined for ‘the next few weeks.’

IRELAND INTERNATIONAL BACK row Josh van der Flier is available for selection ahead of Leinster’s Guinness Pro14 meeting with Scarlets on Saturday after making a full recovery from an ACL injury.

Josh van der Flier Van der Flier is back and fully fit. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

25-year-old van der Flier has been sidelined since suffering the knee injury during Ireland’s Six Nations win over France at the beginning of February but is now ready to make a comeback on the pitch.

“He’s back in full training so he’s available for selection,” said Leinster assistant coach John Fogarty this afternoon. “It’s brilliant that he’s back. He’s worked so hard and it’s good for Ireland as well that he’s back on his feet.”

The positive news on the flanker comes at the start of a week in which several more of Leinster’s Ireland international contingent will also become available to head coach Leo Cullen after sitting out last weekend’s win over Cardiff Blues as part of the IRFU’s player management programme.

There was also negative injury news for Leinster, however, with Barry Daly ruled out of this weekend’s game due to the knee issue he picked up in the dramatic victory over Cardiff Blues, an issue that will require “a small procedure” to remedy.

The province also confirmed that scrum-half Nick McCarthy will be sidelined for “the next few weeks” due to a wrist injury, as reported by The42 last week.

Leinster have Luke McGrath and Jamison Gibson-Park fit and available at scrum-half, but the fact that Kiwi halfback Gibson-Park counts as a ‘non-European’ player in the Pro14 rules may stretch Leinster’s squad.

Exciting wing James Lowe sat out the clash with Cardiff Blues last weekend as Gibson-Park and Australian forward Scott Fardy took up the two ‘non-European’ player slots each club is entitled to.

McCarthy’s absence may mean that Gibson-Park is required every week until his recovery, but Fogarty said that academy scrum-half Hugh O’Sullivan could come into the mix.

Hugh O'Sullivan Hugh O'Sullivan has been training with Leinster's senior squad. ©INPHO ©INPHO

Ireland U20 international O’Sullivan travelled to Cardiff with Leinster last week as one of the extra players.

“When you lose a player in a specialist position like hookers and nines, they’re pretty important, so it does [stretch Leinster] a little bit,” said Fogarty of McCarthy’s injury.

“But there’s that wiggle room in that it gives us an opportunity to see Hugh O’Sullivan in training sessions and he’s going quite well.

“Lukey and Jamo are up and running so there’s a bit of management with that rotation [of the 'non-European' players], but it gives us that shot for Hugh and we’ll see what he looks like.”

While Leinster didn’t confirm which international players will make their provincial comebacks this weekend, they will be welcomed ahead of another tough trip to Wales.

“There’s always going to be players returning at this time of the season so we’ll see how they go through the week,” said Fogarty.

“It’s timely because it’s a huge game. It’s a tricky start to the season for us, away to Cardiff Blues and away to Scarlets in the second game. There’s a lot of history there; we played them four times last season in some big games.

“We’ll need to have an improved performance and getting some players back in is a help.” 

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