Leinster trio set to return
December 31, 2012
Rob Kearney is expected to return to Leinster colours against Edinburgh following a back operation © Getty Images
The trio are stepping up their efforts in training and are undergoing "graduated contact" as they return to action. O'Driscoll is coming back after surgery on an ankle injury in November, Fitzgerald is shaking off a neck injury and Kearney is returning after a back operation.
Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt is desperate to boost his ranks as the defending European champions face crucial Heineken Cup matches at home to the Scarlets and away to Exeter Chiefs following the trip to Edinburgh.
"We'd be quietly confident that we might see Luke, Brian, Dave (Kearney), Rob and Eoin (O'Malley) all training fully next week and available for selection," Schmidt told The Irish Times. "I'm really confident about both (Brian and Rob returning) to be honest, Luke as well and Dave and Eoin.
"The problem I do have is if I do get them back for Edinburgh there is not a lot of time to knit ourselves back together when we have to chase big games against the Scarlets and Exeter away in the following two weeks. It would be nice to get a run in for those guys challenging for spots but it is not a perfect world unfortunately."
Utility back Isa Nacewa will miss the match with Edinburgh though as he continues his come-back from an arm injury that he picked up in the Heineken Cup loss to Clermont Auvergne. However, he is expected to be back for the Scarlets' visit to Dublin for the fifth round of Heineken Cup matches.
"It is some deep bone bruising where the plate was and so he was in a fair bit of discomfort," Schmidt said. "We want to allow it to heal fully, otherwise you get bone bruising on bone bruising and he is going to really feel that. Isa fits in so easily I wouldn't have too many fears about him coming straight in for Scarlets or Exeter, whichever the case may be, as long as he is fit."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the battle for Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory taking centre stage
"If you listen carefully you should be able to hear them mining the granite for the statue of a certain Jonny Wilkinson" Graham Jenkins reports from the Heineken Cup Final
Quade Cooper's defence is better than it was 12 months ago and Robbie Deans has erred in omitting him from the core Wallabies squad to play the Lions, Greg Growden writes