Leinster's Seán O'Brien's is making 'good progress' back from injury, but is set to be unavailable for their Guinness Pro14 clash against Scarlets this weekend.
O'Brien has returned to running this week, and will look to step up his rehabilitation from a hip problem further in the week, according to a Leinster injury report.
The Carlow forward has not played since a Champions Cup victory over the Exeter Chiefs at the Aviva Stadium in December.
Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey says O'Brien is working well through his recovery, and they will continue to monitor him throughout the week.
"Seany's made good progress," he told RTÉ News.
"We'll assess how he goes during the week but he upped his running volume last week and he's making strides towards a return to play, which is great news for us.
"All I can say at this moment in time is he's upped his volume last week. He'll do more running today, if he comes through that then he'll progress it tomorrow and we're fortunate that it's a long week into Saturday.
"It's going to be very optimistic that he'll be involved, if not this week, then definitely in our return game post the break. But I'd be very hopeful," he added.
O'Brien's absence from the Saturday clash at Parc y Scarlets indicates that he is unlikely to be available for selection for Ireland's Six Nations meeting with Scotland in two weeks on 10 March in the Aviva Stadium.
Meanwhile, Garry Ringrose came through his first game back against the Southern Kings without any issues.
His encouraging performance in the 64-7 win strengthens his chances of making his way back into the Ireland squad before the end of the Six Nations.