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Lions trio winning fitness battles

By Robert Jones

Warren Gatland has delivered an upbeat fitness bulletin on three members of his British and Irish Lions squad to face the All Blacks.

Captain Sam Warburton, scrum-half Conor Murray and lock Alun Wyn Jones are all currently injured.

They were named last month in the 41-man squad for this summer's New Zealand tour and remain on course to be fully fit.

Warburton is sidelined because of a knee injury, but he could play for Cardiff Blues ahead of the Lions' departure for Auckland on May 29.

Ireland star Murray, meanwhile, has not played since mid-March due to a shoulder problem, missing Munster's Champions' Cup loss to Saracens, and Warburton's Wales colleague Jones also has a shoulder injury.

"He (Warburton) is good," Lions head coach Gatland said.

"I spoke to Sam yesterday and he feels that he could play now, so he has made some really good progress and is really happy with how he has responded to treatment over the last few weeks.

"I expect him to play before he goes to New Zealand.

"(Jones) is making good progress as well. (Lions assistant coach) Steve Borthwick went down and saw him last week and he's confident that he is going to be okay as well.

"Conor Murray, the prognosis with him looks pretty positive in terms of hopefully getting back and getting a game for Munster as well, and that will be good for him over the next few weeks if he can get a game."

Meanwhile, Ireland U-20s have been plunged into an injury crisis with several key players set to miss the World Cup which begins at the end of the month.

Jordan Larmour has been ruled out with an ankle injury, while Ulster winger Rob Lyttle (shoulder) and Tommy O'Brien (hamstring) join Bill Johnston (fractured fibula) on the casualty list.

Belfast Telegraph

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