Ultan Dillane: Connacht lock a doubt for early part of Ireland's Six Nations

Ultan Dillane in action against Wasps in the European Champions Cup last month
Ultan Dillane will definitely miss Connacht's game against the Ospreys on Saturday

Ireland lock Ultan Dillane could miss the early part of the Six Nations because of an ankle injury.

Dillane is out of Connacht's Pro12 game against Ospreys on Saturday and the Irish province say he will be unavailable "for a number of weeks".

The 23-year-old made his Ireland debut against England last February and has gone on to earn seven further caps.

Ireland start their Six Nations campaign against Scotland on 4 February and face Italy seven days later.

Dillane's all-action style has impressed Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, who played the Connacht lock during the historic win over New Zealand in Chicago in early November and the subsequent autumn victories over Canada and Australia.

Granted, Schmidt has strength in depth at second row with Devin Toner, Iain Henderson and Donnacha Ryan among his lock options.

Connacht captain John Muldoon
John Muldoon will miss Connacht's game against the Ospreys because of a hamstring injury

Muldoon out of Connacht's Ospreys game

Connacht are already in the midst of an injury crisis with nearly 20 of the squad currently ruled out by injury.

Experienced captain John Muldoon joined the injured list on Monday when he sustained a hamstring problem in training which has ruled him out of the Ospreys game.

Nepia Fox-Matamua is also out after dislocating a rib in the New Year's Eve home defeat by Munster while fly-half Jack Carty is a fitness concern because of a calf injury.

Ireland players Finlay Bealham and Matt Healy were unable to train with Pat Lam's squad on Tuesday because of a stomach bug but Danie Poolman, John Cooney, Eoin McKeon and James Connolly should be available again following absences.

Utility back Poolman picked up a bang to the head in the defeat by Ulster on 23 December while scrum-half Cooney has been out for a number of weeks because of a thigh injury.

Back-row forwards Eoin McKeon and James Connolly will also be available for Saturday's game in Wales after missing the Munster defeat because of illness.

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