Tom Farrell’s hopes of playing in next year’s Six Nations have been dealt a blow with the Connacht centre set to be sidelined until the New Year with a fractured shoulder.
Farrell (26) scored a try against Toulouse last weekend in the Heineken Cup, but also sustained the scapula injury, which will leave him out for approximately six weeks.
Connacht backs coach Nigel Carolan confirmed that Farrell does not need surgery to repair the injury, while he hopes his latest setback won’t halt his Irish prospects.
It was Farrell’s third try in just six outings for Connacht this season and having featured in Irish squads under Joe Schmidt in the past, the absence dents his chances of making the first squad of Ireland’s new head coach Andy Farrell.
But Carolan is maintaining an optimistic outlook for his talented attacker, while the side will also be boosted by the return of Ireland centre Bundee Aki for their PRO14 clash with Southern Kings at the Sportsground on Saturday.
“Tom can bank a lot of what he has done, it has been really good,” said Carolan.
“There has been a lot of big games. This 13-week block is full of massive games for us. Every player wants to play in all of the games but he can take a lot of resolve in the fact that he has been playing really well. At least he is back in the shop window again. His injury is not as bad as first feared. We’d love Tom to be available, he has been superb.”
Aki’s omission last weekend was just a precaution after he experienced tightness in his hamstring following the thrilling 23-20 win over Montpellier at the Sportsground.
Ireland scrum-half Kieran Marmion is still out after he had an epidural in his back a few weeks ago. He is expected to return for back-to-back games against Gloucester.
Captain Jarrad Butler, Denis Buckley, Eoin McKeon, Niyi Adeolokun and Rory Burke are all available. However, full-back Darragh Leader is suffering from a calf issue and won’t be fit.