Keith Earls and James Cronin back in Munster training, targeting return against Saracens

MUNSTER AND IRELAND wing Keith Earls is edging closer to making his first appearance of the season after coming through training at CIT today.

The winger under went surgery on his patellar tendon in his right knee in September after struggling with the problem through pre-season.

Today, however, the Limerick man re-joined the squad in a limited training session.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“Keith Earls took part in part of the session today,” assistant coach Ian Costello confirmed to Red FM’s Big Red Bench today.

“The key thing will be how he responds to that. he’ll be assessed in the morning to see how his injury is as an ongoing part of his rehab. If he goes well, we progress more later in the week.”

As Costello welcomed the easing of some injury concerns, he was also able to provide an equally positive update on loosehead prop James Cronin. Having missed a stretch of early season games with an ankle injury, the Corkman was then ruled out again after his return.

And, like Earls, his comeback looks to be on course for the southern province’s crunch Champions Cup Pool 1 clash against Saracens on 17 January.

“James Cronin was another one in the same situation. He did a little bit of contact today prior to the session, took part in a percentage of the session – doesn’t do the full amount because it’s part of the return to play – but two big figures, characters to get back potentially over the next couple of weeks.”

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

And asked how soon the duo may be available to don the red shirt again Costello was tentative as he awaited to see how the players reacted to the return. However, depending on their physical condition, Earls and Cronin could return as soon as this weekend’s trip to face Zebre.

“We had the discussion and it’s really around how they respond to training today. Then you’ve got to look at a number of factors – like fatigue or whether they’re going to have any soreness tomorrow – then  you make a decision whether the right thing to do is play them this week or the week after depending on how they respond.”

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