Cian Healy is in a race against time to be fit for the start of the 2014 Six Nations after ankle surgery in Dublin on Wednesday.
Leinster coach Matt O’Connor believes he will be unavailable for up to eight weeks, while Connacht too have their problems ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Cup showdown against Toulouse but are hopeful that up to a dozen players currently suffering with flu will be fit to play.
The chief worry is Kieran Marmion, who was man of the match in Sunday’s epic 16-14 win in Toulouse. The scrum-half was one of around a dozen players unable to train yesterday but team manager Tim Allnutt last night said they were hopeful all would recover.
‘Kieran is the worst of them at the moment but we are hopeful they will [all] be fine by Saturday,’ said Allnutt.
Ireland loosehead Healy will struggle to be back in harness for Ireland’s tournament opener at home to Scotland on February 2 and the round two game against Wales six days later.
‘He’ll more than likely miss the [January] two rounds of Heineken Cup and he’ll be [back] in or around that Six Nations window,’ confirmed O’Connor about the prop whose summer Lions tour ended prematurely after damaging ankle ligaments, which also left him requiring surgery.
Healy had been chosen to start at Northampton last Saturday but was an 11th-hour withdrawal after failing to recover from the rolled ankle injury picked up in training late in the week.
O’Connor wasn’t too concerned at the time, however, a scan subsequently diagnosing syndesmosis, a high ankle sprain that involves the ligaments above the joint, and the prognosis was minor surgery.
‘Blokes getting broken at training is part of the game,’ rued the coach.
‘He rolled his ankle. It could have been a very, very minor incident.
‘It wasn’t until we really scanned it that we had any indication how serious it was.’