James Ryan on course for Six Nations but remains a doubt for Leinster's clash with Benetton

Ireland lock James Ryan is on course to be fit for the start of the Six Nations, but it remains to be seen if he will return from injury in Leinster’s final Champions Cup pool clash against Benetton on Saturday.

Ryan picked up a calf injury in the win over Connacht last month and although it was not a serious setback, Leinster have understandably been cautious about rushing him back too soon.

The 23-year old will resume training this week before a final decision on his fitness will be made later on.

Leinster travel to Treviso looking to go into the knockout stages of Europe as top seeds, but such is the strength in depth of the province, Leo Cullen is not under any real pressure to play Ryan.

“It’s not been that long since he got injured, so we are taking it day-by-day,” Leinster’s backs coach Felipe Contepomi said at UCD this afternoon.

“I think he is making good progress, but with that type of injury, every hour counts nearly. We need to take it day-by-day.

“He is doing great. I think when you are as fit and young as he is, sometimes the recovery goes faster. It’s great for him but we will have to wait and see.”

“It’s early (to make a call for this weekend) because it is a muscular injury. You have to assess it.

“Even, he might go out and train or get up to speed and then you have a setback. You can’t tell much.

“It’s not defintely a guarantee. If he can make it, good, but if not, we need to keep trucking.”

Ronan Kelleher had been expected to make his comeback from a hand injury, but that has been put on hold as he continues with his rehab.

The 21-year old hooker has not suffered any setbacks, but he will not feature against Benetton.

Kelleher has enjoyed a stunning breakthrough season and looked nailed on to make Ireland’s Six Nations squad, which Andy Farrell will name tomorrow. He now faces an anxious wait to see if he has made the cut.

Meanwhile, Johnny Sexton will again step up his recovery from the knee injury he picked up last month as Contepomi added that his former team-mate is making good progress in his bid to be fit for Ireland’s opener against Scotland on February 1.

“Johnny is very professional and he is looking good. But defintely, he won’t make it this weekend. Hopefully he will be fit to at least be in contention for selection (for the Six Nations),” he said.

“He is looking good and recovering well. This is another extreme – he is not as young as James (Ryan), but having said that, he has always been a remarkable professional throughout his life, so that makes it easier for when he picks up an injury to recover.

“That’s what he is doing, he has been really good.”

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