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Fitzgerald finally ready to return

Guinness PRO12 Editor

18 Aug 2010

Leinster wing Luke Fitzgerald is expected to finally return to action this weekend.

The Irish youngster has been out of action since November but is in line to feature in Leinster’s pre-season friendly against Wasps.

Fitzgerald was one of Leinster’s star performers in their Magners League winning season of 2008 and their Heineken Cup winning campaign a year later but his impact last season was limited through injury.

The 22-year-old returned from the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa with a Test cap and had been expected to play a big role for both province and country as Leinster and Ireland went in search of more trophies.

But Fitzgerald suffered a substantial setback when he tore knee ligaments in Ireland’s autumn clash with Australia.

He missed the remainder of the season, sitting out 13 Magners League games, four Heineken Cup pool ties plus the quarter and semi-finals, Ireland’s historic win over South Africa and all five Six Nations games in 2010.

Fitzgerald also missed Ireland’s summer tour to Australia and New Zealand but looks set to feature on Friday night when Leinster welcome Wasps to Donnybrook.

Fellow Ireland internationals Sean O’Brien and Fergus McFadden are also named in the Leinster squad after injury, as is second row Devin Toner.

O’Brien missed Leinster’s surge to the inaugural Magners League Grand Final after breaking his leg during February’s win over the Scarlets at the RDS, while McFadden featured in the Grand Final before fracturing his jaw in Ireland’s defeat to the Barbarians at Thomond Park a week later.

New head coach Joe Schmidt is set to hand debuts to summer signings Isaac Boss and South African prop Heinke van der Merwe as Leinster continue their preparations for their Magners League opener away to Glasgow Warriors on Friday, September 3.

Schmidt has also included seven academy players in the 25-man squad, while the likes of Ireland summer tourists Brian O’Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip, Cian Healy and Rob Kearney are rested.

Leinster squad (vs London Wasps)

Backs (12): Isaac Boss, Luke Fitzgerald, David Kearney, Michael Keating, Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden, Ian McKinley, Niall Morris, Isa Nacewa, Paul O'Donohoe, Eoin O'Malley, Eamonn Sheridan

Forwards (13): Jason Harris-Wright, Trevor Hogan, Ben Marshall, Jack McGrath, Sean O'Brien, Mike Ross, Dominic Ryan, Paul Ryan, Eoin Sheriff, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, Heinke van der Merwe, Stan Wright