Early return for O'Driscoll?

Getty Images     28 Dec 2012     Getty Images

Coach Joe Schmidt had said the end of January was the most likely time that O'Driscoll could expect to be back after ankle ligament surgery.

However, he updated that by saying on Thursday that O'Driscoll could be back to play Edinburgh on January 4.

Backing his return could also be Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald who would augment the side's resources before their next Heineken Cup pool match on January 11.

Leinster need 10 points from the final two pool games to have any hope of defending their title by reaching the knockout stages of the competition.

They meet the Llanelli Scarlets and Exeter Chiefs on successive weekends.

O'Driscoll's reaction to the Irish Times last week about his prospects were: "I'm due to come back and play towards the end of January.

"I'm hoping to be back before that, but I don't know. I could make it back for rounds five and six of the Heineken Cup, but I haven't been thinking about it.

"I'm not aiming at anything at the moment. I'm going day on day, session on session. The thing is, I've had surgery and it has to knit," he said.

"Healing is on-going and no matter how much work I do, I'm not in control of it. I just have to wait for it to take properly and for when I'm given the go-ahead that it is secure from the specialist."