MUNSTER have been handed a welcome early Christmas present with confirmation that flying winger Simon Zebo could well return to active in the PRO12 festive fixture against Ulster.
Lions star Zebo has been sidelined since mid-October after cracking a bone in his left foot in Munster’s Heineken Cup opening round fixture away to Edinburgh.
Winger Zebo has commenced rehabilitation running and is expected to return to training over the Christmas period.
Munster coach, Rob Penney said it was hoped Zebo could return to action in the province’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Ulster at Ravenhill on Saturday, January 3.
“Zeebs will hopefully be back around Christmas time, so possibly Ulster, if everything goes to plan.
“He is up and doing a little bit of running on a gravity threadmill and so he is making good progress to that end. He has not put the boots on yet or run around on grass.”
Winger Keith Earls looks likely to miss this Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with the Scarlets at Musgrave Park (7.15pm) after suffering a concussion late on in the weekend Heineken Cup win over Perpignan. Earls is following the IRB ‘return to play’ protocols and didn’t train with the squad at UL yesterday. Ian Keatley could also miss out on the game with the Scarlets owing to a thigh strain which has been hampering him for some time,
Team captain Peter O’Mahony and second row Paul O’Connell are also set to met Saturday’s tie owing to their heavy playing schedule of late.
Duncan Casey could possibly come in for his first senior start, given the amount of game time Damien Varley has seen in recent weeks.
Coach Penney said he believed Donnacha Ryan’s best playing days are ahead of him following the second row’s signing of a new three-year deal to remain at Munster.
Penney said: “It is fantastic to have Donnacha (Ryan) about. He is a fantastic guy, a big heart and soul man. I think he has a massive future with Irish rugby and I think his best rugby is ahead of him. It’s great he is secured for three more years. He will be a great asset. He did some really good things on Saturday and will get better.”