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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 14 December, 2018

O'Donoghue a doubt for Racing, but Earls set to return to Munster training

There is also good news on James Cronin and Duncan Williams.

O'Donoghue is nursing an ankle knock.
O'Donoghue is nursing an ankle knock.
Image: Brendan Moran

JACK O’DONOGHUE HAS emerged as an injury concern ahead of Munster’s Champions Cup showdown with Racing 92, but Keith Earls could come back into the selection picture as he returns to full training earlier than expected.

O’Donoghue sustained an ankle injury in the province’s Pro14 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday evening and will be assessed by medical staff as the week progresses.

But Earls, who was ruled out for six weeks after suffering knee ligament damage during the final stages of Ireland’s win at Twickenham last month, has made great progress in his recovery and could provide Munster with a major boost for Sunday’s semi-final in Bordeaux [KO 4.15pm, BT Sport].

The Ireland winger will resume training with Johann van Graan’s squad at their University of Limerick base this week and should he prove his fitness, could come into contention way ahead of schedule.

Similarly, Munster are hopeful scrum-half Duncan Williams — who was originally ruled out for the remainder of the season — will make an earlier than expected return after undergoing surgery for an eye, cheekbone and palate injury.

Keith Earls and Dave Kilcoyne arrive Earls (left) is ahead of schedule in his comeback from a knee injury. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

He will meet a specialist this week to review his recovery timeline and could yet feature in the closing stages of the campaign, as the southern province continue to fight on two fronts.

Meanwhile, James Cronin, who sustained a shoulder injury against the Southern Kings a fortnight ago, is progressing well and is expected to return to full contact training in the coming days, but Dan Goggin (knee) and James Hart (head) will be monitored.

Tommy O’Donnell (shoulder), Tyler Bleyendaal (neck), Chris Farrell (knee), Chris Cloete (forearm), Jaco Taute (knee) are all long-term absentees.

Munster returned home from South Africa late on Sunday evening after their two-game mini tour, with preparations for Racing beginning in earnest tomorrow.

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Ryan Bailey

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