Influential Ireland prop Marcus Horan is back in the Munster squad for the first time since October for the crucial Heineken Cup clash against Northampton.
Having got 80 minutes under his belt in Shannon’s AIB League 32-10 victory over Dolphin last week, Munster boss Tony McGahan has called up Horan to bolster their front-row options against the Saints who edged the scrum battle in the teams’ clash earlier this season.
Horan, who has 72 caps for his country, suffered from an irregular heartbeat but has now been given a clean bill of health to compete for club and country again although he is likely to start off the bench on Friday night.
And with fellow front-rower Wian du Preez due to return to South Africa later this week, McGahan admits Horan’s return could not have come at a better time as they face a make-or-break encounter with Northampton.
“Marcus has worked really hard to get back into the squad,” he said. “He's been training for the last three weeks and played 80 minutes on Saturday and has ticked all the boxes.
“He was delighted to get the run. He's building up for the last three weeks and was very happy after 80 minutes on Saturday.
“He's in the mix for Friday night – he’s been out for a long stretch and Wian (du Preez) and John (Hayes) have done very well. We'll see."
“Round six again, an English opponent in excellent form and again a decider in a shoot-out to see who qualifies first and who goes through to get a quarter-final spot and again a great week to be part of.
“It seems to be always that way, that the English side that comes over at this time is the number one side through form.
“They’ve got a lot of belief, a lot of high-quality players, they’ll be coming here well and truly confident in their ability. They’ve spoken about that all season since they beat us in round one and that’s certainly been the talk coming from their camp this week.”