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Leinster hopeful of McFadden return before contract expires

The 34-year-old is set to retire from professional rugby in October.

LEINSTER ARE HOPEFUL experienced wing Fergus McFadden will recover from a calf injury in time to make a final appearance for the province before retiring.

The 34-year-old was yesterday ruled out for up to six weeks after sustaining the injury in training.

McFadden signed a short-term contract extension with Leinster to last through until the conclusion of the restarted 2019/20 season in October, when he will retire from professional rugby.

fergus-mcfadden-after-the-game McFadden after Leinster's win over the Cheetahs in February. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

A six-week timeframe would rule McFadden out of the remainder of the 2019/20 Pro14 campaign and it would naturally be a big ask to break back into the matchday squad for the Champions Cup knock-out stages. Leinster are due to face Saracens in the quarter-finals on 19 September.

However, the Ireland international is now throwing himself into the rehabilitation of his calf injury in a bid to feature again before his career concludes.

“We hope he can get back,” said Leinster assistant coach Felipe Contepomi yesterday.

“At the moment he’s making good progress. It’s a bad luck injury because he was looking really good and really sharp but we hope he can get back before the contract is over.”

Leinster scrum-half Luke McGrath added that the entire squad is rooting for McFadden as they hope to see him get a chance to bid farewell on the pitch.

“It was devastating to see him go down in training last week,” said McGrath.

“But he seems pretty positive, the rehab is going well. I know it’s still quite early and I know he’ll be gone for a couple of weeks at least. He’s such a positive person and it is difficult for him, but he’ll be back soon, hopefully.”

Meanwhile, centre Conor O’Brien is facing into several months out of action after undergoing surgery on a longstanding hamstring issue.

The 24-year-old is currently at home in Mullingar as he begins his recovery.

“He’s doing well,” said Contepomi. “Actually he’s back at his home for lockdown. It will be a few weeks for him to get better. Again, injuries happens sometimes in pre-season and he now has to get better. Hopefully he can get back stronger.”

The Leinster assistant coach was pleased to report that Ireland lock James Ryan’s recovery from shoulder surgery continues positively, with the 24-year-old hopeful of being fit for the Saracens clash.

“He’s looking really good. He’s getting better, much better. He is running and doing a few bits on the pitch so he’s looking closer to get back training and playing.”

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Tighthead prop Vakh Abdaladze is having back surgery this week as he hopes to resolve a long-term injury, while wing Adam Byrne will also be missing over the coming months after hamstring surgery.

Despite the injuries, Leinster head into Saturday’s clash with Munster being closed doors at the Aviva Stadium with a positive mindset.

“It’s a big challenge,” said Contepomi. “It’s a new or strange situation and we can only imagine how it will be because we’ve never been through a situation of playing in an empty stadium before.

“Hopefully we can adapt if we have to adapt to something on the day and then learn from it and get better for the following week and so on.

“I think it could be a situation that could go for a few weeks or months, you don’t know. It’s just getting used to it, it’s all new and in terms of Munster it’s always great.

“It’s been a tough few months for everyone in the world but in Ireland, being so close to rugby coming back and giving all of the people, even if they can’t be at the stadium, the opportunity to enjoy and entertain with rugby.

“Leinster v Munster, you can’t ask for a better game to start with so we’re looking forward to it very much.”

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Murray Kinsella

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