Sean O'Brien's unlikely to be back for Ireland's Six Nations matches against Scotland and England after being ruled out of Leinster's PRO14 game against the Scarlets in Wales on Saturday.
The Lions flanker hasn't played since suffering a hip injury in the Blues' Champions Cup victory against Exeter in December. He's since had a 'small operation' in a bid to recover from the ongoing issue.
O'Brien has stepped up his recovery over the last week and backs coach Girvan Dempsey says 'the Tullow Tank' is close to returning.
"He's upped his volume (of training), he'll do more running today and if he comes through that he'll progress through to tomorrow. We're fortunate that it's a long week but it would be very, very optimistic to think he'll be involved (against Scarlets). I'd be very hopeful about him being back after the break."
Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey / INPHO/Morgan Treacy
While Munster are set to be without flanker Chris Cloete for the rest of the season.
The South African will be sidelined for three to four months having undergone an operation on the fractured arm he suffered in Friday's Pro 14 win over Glasgow.
Hooker Niall Scannell is being assessed by the medical team, after picking up a rib injury.
Tommy O'Donnell has had a quicker than expected recovery from a shoulder issue, and is available for Friday's trip to Edinburgh.
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