Earls hands Munster a fitness boost ahead of Racing semi final

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Keith Earls scoring against Racing 92 in Munster's Champions Cup defeat to Racing 92 in Paris. He could be in line to face the same opposition this weekend Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

KEITH Earls returns to full training this week as Munster prepare for their European Champions Cup semi final against Racing 92 this Sunday in Bordeaux.

Earls hasn’t played since sustaining a knee injury in Ireland’s Six Nations Grand Slam victory over England in Twickenham last month.

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Elsewhere, it is expected that James Cronin will also take part in full contact training in the lead up to the game after missing Munster’s Guinness Pro14 victory in South Africa against Toyata Cheetahs on Friday.

However, Jack O’Donoghue and Dan Goggin are doubts for the Racing 92 game due to knee and ankle problems. James Hart, who left the Cheetahs game in the first half will follow return to play protocols this week.

As well as the positive news on Earls, Munster have also been handed a boost with the news that Duncan Williams is also on the comeback trail.

The scrum half had initially been ruled out of the remainder of the 2017/2018 season but his facial injury has healed a lot quicker than expected.

Williams was initially ruled out for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery for an eye, cheekbone and palate injury, will meet with the specialist to review an earlier return timeline.

A victory over Racing on Sunday will see Munster into their fifth European Final and their first since lifting the crown back in 2008.