Injured prop Cian Healy looks set to hand club and country a boost by returning to action a month ahead of schedule, Leinster scrum coach Marco Caputo has revealed.
When the 27-year-old Ireland international tore his hamstring off the bone during a club training session in September he was expected to be out for up to five months.
However, his rehabilitation has progressed so well that Healy has been earmarked for a return to the fold when Leinster resume European Champions Cup action against Castres on January 17.
It means Healy, whose participation in the British & Irish Lions triumphant tour of Australia in 2013 was cut short due to ankle ligament damage, is almost certain to add to his 48 international caps when Ireland kick off their RBS 6 Nations title defence against Italy on February 7.
“There’s a balancing act and it’s about managing the risk,” Caputo told the Irish Times.
“He’s got a couple of boxes to tick as to when he’s let off the leash. The biggest is the strength imbalance in his legs – his good leg and bad leg.
“He’s making real progress. I think he’s got his next benchmark examination next Monday and if he comes through that he’ll be in the frame for selection.”