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 Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Top 14, Super Rugby and the Aviva Premiership with fireworks and monsters both featuring
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14