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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Schmidt: Fitzgerald still a fitness doubt for Warriors clash

LEINSTER coach Joe Schmidt has admitted "there is a doubt" about Luke Fitzgerald playing against Glasgow Warriors in the PRO12 League on Saturday.

The Ireland left wing has been on a week-by-week monitoring programme for a neck injury and it looks like Fitzgerald will have to wait until Friday week in Aironi to get back down to business.

"He is very, very close. But the problem for Luke is that we thought it was a two-to-three-week injury. It became a six-to-seven-week injury," said Schmidt.

"He has lost a fair bit of condition. At the moment, we have put some markers down and told him 'this is how fit you have to be to be able to return to play'.

"Often when someone comes back from an injury like that, having been out for so long, if you put them back too quickly they will get a muscle strain or some related injury.

"We would do a disservice to the team and to the individual if we put guys back in when they are fully fit medically, but not fully fit conditioning-wise."

Fitzgerald will be given every chance to prove his fitness this week, but it would seem unnecessary to risk him in Glasgow, especially as Leinster hold a 10-point lead at the summit of the league.

If Fitzgerald returns on Friday week, he will have further game time against Ospreys and away to Munster before the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues on April 7.

At present, Leinster maintain a 10-point lead over The Ospreys. Munster are four points back in third with a game in hand, with Glasgow fourth and in the final play-off place. Ulster's defeat to the Blues on Friday has left them in sixth.

RABODIRECT PRO12 LEAGUE: THE ROAD AHEAD

Round 16: Glasgow Warriors v LEINSTER, Firhill, Saturday, February 25.

Round 17: Aironi v LEINSTER, Stadio Zafanella, Friday, March 2.

Round 18: LEINSTER v The Ospreys, The RDS, Friday, March 23.

Round 19: Munster v LEINSTER, Thomond Park, Saturday, March 31.

Round 20: LEINSTER v Edinburgh, The RDS,

April 13/14/15.

Round 21: Ulster v LEINSTER, Ravenhill, April 20/21/22.

Round 22: Newport Gwent Dragons v LEINSTER, Rodney Parade, Saturday, May 5.

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