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More bad news for Munster as Keith Earls is ruled out for up to four months

The international winger had surgery on his patellar tendon in London today.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Anthony Foley will be without the skills of Keith Earls until the new year after it was confirmed that the 26-year-old has had an operation on his troublesome right knee.

The province say that the wing underwent surgery on his patellar tendon in London this afternoon and will be sidelined for three to four months as a result.

Earls has not played this season due to the injury, which was aggravated during an Ireland training camp in August. The Limerick man also struggled with patellar tendinitis during 2013, ultimately missing Ireland’s November Test series.

Confirmation of the surgery means Earls will now miss the upcoming 2014 series too, as well as most likely being absent for Munster’s entire Champions Cup pool stage campaign.

Involvement in the 2015 Six Nations is also a concern for the winger, who will hope his recovery period is on the low point of the predicted time frame. Earls has not played for Ireland since the 2013 Six Nations.

Keith was, a couple of weeks ago, penciled in for a return in this game [against Leinster on Saturday],” said Munster head coach Anthony Foley at the University of Limerick this afternoon.

“That’s what we were looking at about three or four weeks ago. Unfortunately, on his return, he was sidestepping and felt something in his knee.

“We had to go and get that further investigated. We did and it’s obviously meant surgery today. Our thoughts are with Keith. I think he’s played nine games for Munster over the last season, so we just want him fit, healthy and back playing for Munster.”

Peter O'Mahony Peter O'Mahony took a limited part in the contact portion of Munster training today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Donnacha Ryan will go under the knife for his toe injury on Thursday and Munster supporters will most likely have to wait before welcoming captain Peter O’Mahony and Damien Varley back into the pack.

O’Mahony is taking part in “limited contact” training this week, while Varley is on a “modified schedule,” meaning both are unlikely to return for the Leinster clash on Saturday.

Peter trained with us today, along with Damien Varley, so they’re coming to the end of their return to play protocols and hopefully they’ll be back available for selection in the near future,” confirmed Foley.

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Back row Paddy Butler is a doubt for the Aviva Stadium trip as he sustained a concussion in the loss to Ospreys and will follow return to play protocols before being cleared for action.

Foley said out-half pair Ian Keatley and JJ Hanrahan have overcome the osteitis pubis issues that affected them throughout last season. The delay of the latter’s return to the starting XV has been down to beginning pre-season later than other squad members.

“We managed that in the pre-season and we’re looking now to get fellas up to speed,” confirmed Foley. “JJ came back three weeks later than everyone else and we’ve given him a longer pre-season than everyone else to try and rectify that. It seems to have worked.

“At the moment, we’ve got two healthy out-halves.”

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