Niggly injures are a headache

Eric Elwood is still struggling with a host of injuries, and definitely out are Robbie Morris, Johnny O'Connor, John Muldoon, new signing Barry Barry Faamausili, Eoin FGriffin, and Conor O'Loughlin, while Liam Bibo, who has returned from Australia, will not be considered this week.

However a number of "niggly" injuries to Keith Matthews, both scrumhalves Frank Murphy and Cillian Willis, and hooker Sean Cronin, are causing Elwood and his management team "a bit of headache". Cronin will be tested today for a hamstring injury, and Elwood says he is hopeful Matthews and one or both of the two scrumhalves will "come through OK".

As a result Elwood will not select his starting XV until after training today, but with a small squad from which to select, it is expected there will be a familiar look to his line-up. He has been boosted with the return of Gavin Duffy after Ireland coach Declan Kidney softened his attitude to the availability of internationals for this fixture, and he is the obvious choice at fullback. Troy Nathan and Fionn Carr are likely candidates on the wings, while Niva T'auso and Keith Matthews (if fit ) are expected to form the centre partnership. At outhalf Ian Keatley and Miah Nikora are the options, but if Elwood continues last year's pattern, Keatley is more likely to get the nod - given both his experience at starting and his kicking record in a game where goalkicking could be crucial.

The biggest headache for Elwood is at scrumhalf where both Murphy and Willis are doubtful. Murphy, who captained Connacht against Saracens, is the likely starter if available, but young Adam Kennedy is also on standby.

Up front no surprises are expected as Elwood is likely to stick with the tried and tested. Brett Wilkinson and Jamie Hagan are the obvious choices in a front row in which Adrian Flavin would replace Cronin if he is unavailable. Michael Swift and Bernie Upton are likely to form the second row, while Mike McCarthy, Ray Ofisa, and Ezra Taylor are the obvious backrow choices, with Mike McComish, who had an impressive outing on the blindside against Saracens, a capable replacement.

Connacht (possible ) v Dragons: G Duffy, T Nathan, N Ta’auso, K Matthews/A Wynne, F Carr, I Keatley/M Nikora, F Murphy/C Willis/A Kennedy, B Wilkinson, S Cronin/A Flavin, J Hagan, M Swift, B Upton, M McCarthy, M McCarthy, R Ofisa, E Taylor.


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