Alan Quinlan has been named in a Munster squad for the first time since dislocating an elbow against Connacht at the end of December.
The fit-again Alan Quinlan is in contention to feature for Munster in Sunday’s Magners League clash with Aironi at Stadio Zaffanella (kick-off 2pm local time/1pm Irish time).
Quinlan is part of a 28-man squad that includes Mick O’Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Denis Hurley and Tony Buckley, who all returned to training today from the Ireland camp.
The Munster panel also has eight players on board who lined out for the province’s ‘A’ side earlier in the week – Scott Deasy, Declan Cusack, Conor Murray, Peter Borlase, Billy Holland, Dave Foley, Darragh Hurley and Paul Rowley.
Speaking ahead of the game, Munster team manager Shaun Payne said: “We take nothing for granted. We went over to Treviso and came unstuck by a point there.
“Aironi gave a good show against Leinster the last time they played out there, and obviously they beat Biarritz at home in the Heineken Cup.
“I know they haven’t had a win yet in the Magners League, but it’s only a matter of time before that happens. We would be hoping to guard against that victory coming against us. We have to respect them.”
The Munster team to face the Italians will be announced on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, two of the province’s key front row players, John Hayes and Jerry Flannery, remain sidelined by groin and calf injuries respectively.
Payne explained: “Jerry is receiving ongoing treatment with a number of specialists. He’s had more tests and is still awaiting a number of results.
“It’s all to do with his calf muscle and it’s very frustrating. He’s a good way short of being match fit.
“We wouldn’t rule him out (of the rest of the Six Nations) but it’s an injury which just seems to defy expectations, and so at this stage it would be a real push.
“We just want to get to the bottom of the injury, and to know how to treat it properly. It simply can’t happen that a calf tears that often. We have to determine the underlying cause.”
Hayes, whose last appearance for Munster was against London Irish last month, is expected to be out for another three to four weeks.
MUNSTER Squad (v Aironi Rugby) – Backs (12): Johne Murphy, Doug Howlett, Denis Hurley, Lifeimi Mafi, Scott Deasy, Sam Tuitupou, Simon Zebo, Declan Cusack, Paul Warwick, Paul Rowley, Duncan Williams, Conor Murray.
Forwards (16): Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, Tony Buckley, Denis Fogarty, Marcus Horan, Stephen Archer, Darragh Hurley, Peter Borlase, Dave Foley, Ian Nagle, Mick O’Driscoll, Billy Holland, Donnacha Ryan, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan, Alan Quinlan.