Munster hooker Jerry Flannery has been handed a fighting chance of making Ireland's Six Nations squad following exploratory surgery on his Achilles.
The 31-year-old looked set to miss Ireland's title defence after withdrawing from Munster's Heineken Cup win over Perpignan.
However further examination revealed Flannery's injury was not as bad as first feared and he should return to action in late January
"It's good news for Jerry, I'm delighted for him, his entry point back into playing games looks like Treviso at this stage," said Munster coach Tony McGahan, whose side face the Italians in the Heineken Cup on the weekend of January 17.
Ireland coach Declan Kidney already faces a selection headache at number two with Ulster's Rory Best ruled out for the rest of the season.
Connacht's Sean Cronin, who made his debut last month, would likely deputise if Flannery failed to recover, with Fogarty brothers John and Denis acting as back up.