McGrath ruled out of Leinster's busy December schedule after hip surgery

Jack Conan, Dan Leavy, Jordan Larmour and Rory O’Loughlin will all be monitored this week.

LEINSTER WILL HAVE to plan without Jack McGrath for their Heineken Champions Cup double-header against Bath, as well as the busy Christmas period, after he was forced to undergo hip surgery last week.

The Ireland prop will be sidelined for the next four to six weeks, missing Saturday’s trip to the Rec [KO 3.15pm, BT Sport], in addition to the return fixture at the Aviva Stadium and Pro14 inter-pros against Connacht, Munster and Ulster.

Jack McGrath McGrath had hip surgery last week. Source: Elena Barbini/INPHO

McGrath’s absence may present further opportunities at loosehead for Ed Byrne, who started Saturday’s Pro14 win over the Dragons and has built up 271 minutes of first-team action this term.

While McGrath has been ruled out of this weekend’s round three clash with Bath, Leinster will continue to monitor the fitness of four players before making a decision on their availability later in the week. 

Jack Conan’s training load will be increased before a further assessment on his shoulder will be made, after the number eight sustained the injury during Ireland’s November Test win over the USA. 

Dan Leavy, meanwhile, will also step up his comeback from a neck strain and Jordan Larmour is due back in training at Donnybrook this afternoon after having a minor procedure on his knee two weeks ago. 

There is good news on Rory O’Loughlin, who hasn’t played since the win over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth at the start of last month, but is expected to be available this week after recovering from a knee problem.

The continued absence of Robbie Henshaw and Joe Tomane heightens the importance of O’Loughlin’s fitness, although Conor O’Brien has impressed in the number 12 jersey in recent weeks while Noel Reid is another option to partner Garry Ringrose in midfield. 

Nick McCarthy McCarthy is out with a foot injury. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

It has also been confirmed that Nick McCarthy will be unavailable for selection again this weekend with a foot injury, meaning Leinster’s three-into-two ‘non-European’ player selection dilemma will come into sharp focus.

McCarthy’s unavailability could spell for bad news for either James Lowe or Scott Fardy, if Leinster are forced to include Jamison Gibson-Park as the reserve scrum-half to Luke McGrath in their matchday 23.

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The alternative, of course, is to use one of Hugh O’Sullivan or Patrick Patterson for the trip to England, allowing the eastern province to select both Lowe and Fardy. 

Fergus McFadden, Joe Tomane [both hamstring], Sean O’Brien [arm] and Will Connors [ACL] remain long-term absentees, while Barry Daly [knee] is nearing his injury comeback. 

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Ryan Bailey

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