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Dublin: -1°C Saturday 23 January 2021

Keith Earls will be back skinning defenders just after the new year

But Dave Kilcoyne is a doubt for Ireland’s 6 Nations opener.

Keith Earls hasn't featured for Munster this season.
Keith Earls hasn't featured for Munster this season.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

IT SEEMS A long time since we last saw Keith Earls jinking past defenders on a rugby pitch but there was a bit of good news on that front today with the news that Earls is expected to be back in action at the start of February.

Earls sustained a knee injury over the summer that required surgery in October and was expected to be out for about four months.

Munster fans will be eager to see Earls back in action, because the thought of a Hanrahan/Earls centre combination is pretty mouth-watering.

“Keith is flying and he was running on grass yesterday,” Munster attack coach Brian Walsh said to Live 95fm.

“We are hopeful to have him back in early February I would say.”

The positive news on Earls was tempered by the fact that prop Dave Kilcoyne has been ruled out for 6-8 weeks after hurting his knee in the home game against Clermont.

With Ireland’s 6 Nations opener against Italy on 7 February, the loosehead is now a major doubt to feature.

Meanwhile, hooker Mike Sherry had to undergo further shoulder surgery after complications arose from his first procedure.

“The last operation didn’t take properly,” Walsh said.

“We went and got another opinion on it. Mike has had his operation and it has been very frustrating for him. All things going well we should get him back before the end of the season certainly.”

Also on the long-term injury list is wing Gerhard van den Heever, who suffered cruciate ligament damage to his right knee in Munster’s round 3 Champions Cup game against Clermont. He is expected to be out for a substantial period of time.

Adding to Munster’s injury woes at hooker is Damian Varley, who is recovering from a foot injury.

Walsh talked about the painful rehab process that Varley has to go through.

“Damian is rehabbing away but it is longer term,” Walsh said.

“It is potentially a five or six month injury. The frustrating thing for him is that it is a slow-process injury. It is a foot injury and he is getting a lot of pain up through his heel but he has had his operation and it is all going according to plan.”

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