Johnny Sexton: Leinster assistant Girvan Dempsey hopes for fly-half's quick return

Johnny Sexton tries to prevent Beauden Barrett in Ireland's game against New Zealand on 18 November
Johnny Sexton injured a hamstring in Ireland's defeat by New Zealand and missed Saturday's win over Australia

Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey is hoping Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton will be available for the European Champions Cup game against Northampton on 9 December.

Sexton was absent for Ireland's win over Australia because of a hamstring injury and he will miss Friday's Pro12 game against the Dragons.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has hinted a break might be in order for Sexton.

"We're hopeful he'll be back for us very soon," said Dempsey on Monday.

"He is undergoing a rehab programme and unfortunately he's not available for us this weekend.

"Once he meets his return to play protocol and ticks all the boxes in regard to criteria in terms of running, kicking, changing direction, high-speed metres and stuff like that, he becomes available for selection for us and we're hopeful that could be next week."

Sexton spent 12 weeks on the sidelines between November 2014 and February 2015 as part of a enforced lay-off following four concussions in a year while playing his club rugby for Racing Metro in France.

Joe Schmidt with Johnny Sexton before Ireland's game against New Zealand on 19 November
Joe Schmidt says the Ireland and Leinster managements will discuss whether Sexton needs an extended break

Schmidt says Sexton fitness talks will take place

Following Ireland's 27-24 win over Australia on Saturday, Schmidt appeared to suggest that the Ireland management would hold discussions with Leinster over a possible extended break for Sexton.

"I got asked last week, does he need a window of time to really make sure that he can be more robust, and that's probably one of the things that comes up for discussion now that this window is over," said Schmidt.

"So some of those discussions will take place and we'll have a clearer picture after that."

On Monday, Leinster assistant Dempsey said he was "currently not aware" of any official contact between Schmidt and the province about a possible extended break for Sexton.

"We're trying to make sure that Johnny is available because that's the most important thing - that he receives the best medical care in conjunction with Leinster and the IRFU and that he's 100% fit and playing in the big games, and that's ultimately what both sides want.

"He's started the rehab programme, he's started working with the physios and he's seeing some external experts on the issue, so we're hopeful in a few days, once he starts that programme, we'll see some return and some response to those and he starts improving."

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