Andy Farrell is set to be without three key backline players for Ireland’s November Test window opener against the Springboks.
Leinster trio James Lowe, Hugo Keenan and Jamison Gibson-Park are all reportedly in a race against time to prove their fitness for the 5 November Test.
The three players have yet to feature for Leinster this season and Ireland head coach Farrell is due to name his squad for the November Tests later this week.
Outside back Keenan is the closest of the three to return to fitness, as he is set to step up his rehabilitation from knee and abdominal injuries.
However, star wing Lowe (calf) and scrumhalf Gibson-Park (hamstring) are further away from a return to play.
“They’re all getting very close,” Leinster head coach Stuart Lancaster told media in Ireland. “Now they’ve trained in bits and pieces with the squad, but they are moving definitely in the right direction.
“It’s going to be up to Andy as to whether he brings them into the squad and runs them out in November, or waits for them to train and get robust enough and confident enough in the training to be able to put them in games, or wait until after they’ve come back to play for Leinster. But they’re close.”
Ireland will definitely be without openside flank Will Connors, out for three months with a bicep injury, as well as hooker Ronan Kelleher and flyhalf Harry Byrne for the November internationals.
Lancaster confirmed that No 8 Jack Conan (eye), lock James Ryan (knee) and loose forward Josh van der Flier (ankle) will also require “further assessments” ahead of the Tests against South Africa, Fiji and Australia.
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