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Schmidt: Fitzgerald injury a blow

Guinness PRO12 Editor

5 May 2012

Fitzgerald puts breathing space between the two sides as he scores between the posts

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt admits his side will miss the presence of Ireland international Luke Fitzgerald after the winger was ruled out of the rest of the season through injury.

The winger, who will sit out the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs and the Heineken Cup final, will undergo neck surgery in the coming weeks.

The 24-year-old, who has 23 Ireland caps to his name, featured in Leinster’s recent Heineken Cup semi-final win over Clermont but Schmidt revealed he will sit out the final against Ulster later this month.

It’s a bitter blow for Fitzgerald who had forced his way back into the Leinster first team after a lengthy knee injury which caused him to miss the entire 2010 Six Nations campaign.

Leinster confirmed in a statement that they consulted with the Irish RFU medical staff before deciding that Fitzgerald would undergo surgery, and Schmidt has tipped the flyer to make a full recovery.

"Obviously to lose a player of Luke's pedigree at such a crucial time of the season is a massive blow, not just for the team and our supporters, but also for the player himself,” said Schmidt.

“Luke has been in fine form recently and as well as his capabilities on the field, he is a positive and popular presence within the dressing-room.

"Knowing Luke, he will be determined to overcome this setback and aggressively tackle his rehab to regain full fitness and he will continue to benefit from the full support of Leinster Rugby and the IRFU during that timeframe."