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Timely boost for Munster and Ireland as Donnacha Ryan returns

The lock is in line for a Pro12 start against Zebre while Felix Jones and Tommy O’Donnell have been released from Ireland duty.

Donnacha Ryan pictured at Munster's training session at U.L today.
Donnacha Ryan pictured at Munster's training session at U.L today.
Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

MUNSTER HAVE BEEN boosted by the return of lock Donnacha Ryan to their playing ranks ahead of this weekend’s league match with Zebre.

The lock, who has found his season disrupted by knee ligament issues, trained with his teammates at University of Limerick today. Munster coach Rob Penney confirmed to TheScore.ie that Ryan was in contention for a starting role against the Italians at Musgrave Park on Saturday.

While the core group of Ireland’s Six Nations squad will be meeting up in Ryan’s home county of Tipperary, tomorrow and Thursday, the player will remain with Munster. He will hope to put in a 60-minute shift, at least, to prove his fitness and form to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Ryan’s return is timely for his province and country as Ulster lock Dan Tuohy fractured his arm in Ireland’s 26-3 win over Wales.

Mike McCarthy and Iain Henderson, who respectively featured for Leinster and Ulster in last weekend’s league action, are also contenders to feature in Ireland’s touring squad to face England at Twickenham [22 February].

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Cathal Sheridan is perfectly captured spinning a training ground pass. INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Penney also revealed that fullback Felix Jones and flanker Tommy O’Donnell had both been released from Ireland camp and will be in the selection mix for the visit of Zebre.

In an injury setback for the province, hooker Niall Scannell is out of action for eight weeks after hyper-extending his elbow. Damien Varley will sit out training again this week, in line with concussion protocols, but may be back in time for Munster’s away trip to Ospreys. Penney is down to the bare bones at hooker with Duncan Casey and Ger Slattery the only two fit dart-throwers between the senior and ‘A’ squads.

Munster put 53 points on Cardiff at Thomond Park at the weekend and will be confident of maintaining their lead league by seeing off a Zebre team responsible for two wins all season.

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Provinces boosted by release of big names from Ireland squad

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Patrick McCarry

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