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Cullen's Leinster to start season without host of injured star names

The likes of Cian Healy, Sean O’Brien and Johnny Sexton remain on the comeback trail.

LEINSTER SAY OUT-half Johnny Sexton is aiming for a return in the early rounds of the Guinness Pro12 season, as his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery at the end of last season continues.

Leo Cullen’s side are facing the prospect of beginning the season without a host of their star names.

Jonathan Sexton Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

31-year-old Sexton missed Ireland’s tour of South Africa after sustaining a shoulder injury during Leinster’s Pro12 final defeat to Connacht.

Sean O’Brien was another to miss Ireland’s trip to face the Boks, and Leinster say he is “progressing well” after a hamstring injury last season, although there is no definitive date for his return to play.

Cian Healy is also set to miss the start of the new season, having only taken part in his first on-field session of the summer yesterday. The loosehead prop has “recovered well” from neck and knee issues, according to the province.

Ireland international Rhys Ruddock will not be available until round four of the Pro12, due to his ongoing recovery from ankle surgery, while hooker Richardt Strauss is due to see a consultant this week regarding a knee issue.

Ireland wing Dave Kearney continues to suffer with an AC joint strain, but is “nearing a return to play.”

Big summer signing Robbie Henshaw remains on the long-term recovery trail after knee surgery, with Leinster putting his recovery timeframe at 12-16 weeks. That timeframe began for Henshaw post-surgery, meaning he should be ready for a return in 8-12 weeks.

Prop Ed Byrne, who has been injured for the last 12 months due to a worrying knee issue, is “making steady progress,” but Leinster have no definitive date for any return.

A dislocated shoulder in last weekend’s pre-season win over Ulster means fullback Billy Dardis is also set for a period on the sidelines.

More positively, Leinster say Mike McCarthy has passed all the return-to-play concussion protocols and and has taken a full part in pre-season. He is set to feature in the friendly against Bath in two weekends’ time.

Centre Noel Reid is also targeting that fixture as his recovers from a mid-foot strain, while fullback Rob Kearney is now training fully after his hamstring issues cleared.

Captain Isa Nacewa is “very close” to returning as the arm injury he sustained last season heals, with Leinster managing his contact load.

Finally, openside flanker Josh van der Flier played last weekend against Ulster and came through with no ill effects to his ankle.

Leinster play Gloucester in Tallaght Stadium at 3pm this Saturday in their second pre-season friendly.

- This article was updated at 15.13 on 17 August to clarify Henshaw’s recovery timeframe, list Billy Dardis as being injured, and add the word ‘continues’ to the first paragraph.

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Murray Kinsella

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