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Munster winger Keith Earls out for three to four months injured

Munster winger Keith Earls could be set for four months on the sidelines following confirmation he will require surgery on a knee injury.

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Earls injured his patellar tendon during the close-season and will now be forced to sit out Ireland's November internationals against South Africa, Georgia and Australia.

Munster will also have to do without the 26-year-old in their European Rugby Champions Cup pool fixtures, which begin with a trip to Sale Sharks on October 18.

A four-month absence would leave Earls racing to be fit for the Six Nations opener against Italy on February 7.

Munster team-mate Donnacha Ryan is also set to sit out the forthcoming international fixtures, with his surgery on an injured foot scheduled for Thursday, while Peter O'Mahony returned to limited-contact training this week following shoulder problems.

Ireland also have concerns over the fitness of Cian Healy (hamstring) and Jonny Sexton (jaw).

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