Ireland winger Tommy Bowe could return for Six Nations
Ireland winger Tommy Bowe could be set to return to action sooner than expected after undergoing surgery on a cruciate knee ligament injury.
The 31-year-old is hopeful that he may recover in time to take part in next year's Six Nations despite initially being ruled out for six months.
"I'll hopefully get myself back onto the pitch sometime soon in the new year," Bowe told Irish broadcaster RTE.
"Thankfully it wasn't as bad as it could've been," added the Ulster back.
The winger suffered the injury during Ireland's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina and it was announced last month that he would miss his side's defence of their Six Nations title.
Ireland begin their 2016 Six Nations campaign against Wales in Dublin on 7 February.
"I'm on the road to recovery at the minute. The operation was done over four weeks ago and I just have to recuperate for a couple of months.
"I had a chat with Joe. He's aware of my situation and he's aware that I'm going to do my best to get myself back into reasonable shape for whatever competitions are available - whether that's the Six Nations or the summer tour, who knows? "
Injury not as bad as initially feared
Bowe said that despite requiring surgery the injury wasn't as bad as he had initially feared.
"I came off after 12 minutes of the game against Argentina and we were already 14-0 down," he said. "To have to go off on a stretcher and watch the rest of the game in the medical room was pretty difficult.
"At the time I thought it was quite serious. It could have been a lot worse. I'm very positive, it's feeling good and strong.
"I'll have a brace on it until January. It's a pain in the neck. But if things are looking good then there might be a chance to come out of it then.
"It is awkward. I've been on crutches since the operation. It's not ideal but the brace is there to make me better so it's doing the job.
"It drives me mad, I hate it. You want to be out there, you want to be a part of it. Through the good wins you want to be in the changing room to celebrate and with the bad losses you think you could have made a difference. That's always difficult."