Johann van Graan hopeful Keith Earls can return for Munster against Leicester

Munster boss Johann van Graan has not ruled out a return from injury this weekend for Ireland wing Keith Earls, writes Simon Lewis.

The Champions Cup Pool 4 leaders travel to Leicester on Sunday for their round-four game against the Tigers at Welford Road and head coach van Graan offered the prospect of a surprise comeback from a hamstring injury for Earls.

Earls recently said he had been targeting a St Stephen's Day return against Leinster as his comeback game having sustained his injury in the first week of November during an Ireland training session.

Yet both Earls and hooker Niall Scannell, out since the round two win over Racing 92 with a broken thumb which required surgery, returned to full training in Limerick today and van Graan did not rule out their involvement against Leicester.

“We'll see how they go today and we'll reassess how they're going later in the week,” the Munster head coach said before this afternoon's training session.

“They might be in the 23 or they might play in the A team game or they might not play. I don't want to speculate at this stage.”

Van Graan said both wing Andrew Conway and hooker Rhys Marshall were continuing to progress through their return to play protocols having sustained concussions last Saturday in the 33-10 home win over Leicester while fly-half Ian Keatley should also be fit to play.

He hyperextended his right knee making a tackle but continued after treatment and retained his goal-kicking duties before being replaced on 74 minutes.

There was further good news for Munster with the return to limited training of loosehead prop James Cronin, who sustained a calf injury playing for the Barbarians against Tonga at Thomond Park on November 10.


Most Read in Sport