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O'Connell return delayed until 2013
ESPN Staff
December 11, 2012
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell, France v Ireland, Six Nations, Stade de France, Paris, France, February 11, 2012
Paul O'Connell will not play until 2013 © Getty Images
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Ireland lock Paul O'Connell will not return to action until at least the New Year as he continues to recover from a back injury raising doubts about his participation in this season's Six Nations.

O'Connell's last appearance came in mid October when he played for Munster in the Heineken Cup clash with Edinburgh at Thomond Park. Although he hoped to return in time to play in some of Ireland's autumn internationals campaign, he subsequently missed their defeat to South Africa and wins over Fiji and Argentina.

And Munster have confirmed that he will at least miss their Heineken Cup clash with Saracens on Sunday as well as RaboDirect Pro12 fixtures against Connacht and Ulster as he battles against a bulging disc in his back. With no date set for a return, his availability for the opening fixtures of the 2013 Six Nations, which starts at the beginning of February, remains unclear.

A Munster statement read: "Paul O'Connell is undergoing treatment for a lower back complaint. His treatment is progressing satisfactorily. He will see a specialist for further review in the New Year."

The 33-year-old had previously been sidelined with knee and back problems from May through to October.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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