Cian Healy hopes to return for huge Champions Cup showdown
Cian Healy is back on the training pitch following a hamstring injury - which will be as much a welcome relief for Matt O'Connor as it will be for Joe Schmidt.
The 27-year-old underwent surgery at the end of September but despite taking the latest step towards a return, he is keen not to rush back.
"I'm just back running, it's very basic," he said. "I'm not doing anything fast, just getting back into the mechanics of it, but the leg is feeling great."
Leinster's next Champions Cup game against Castres on January 16 remains Healy's targeted return but he admitted that there is still plenty of work to be done before that date becomes set in stone.
"It's killing me (not being able to play). It has been the longest I've been out," he said.
"It will be good to get back but I've got to ease myself back into the training side of it.
"I am still holding back that extra bit of what I'm capable of. There's no pushing it too hard. It's all about testing the waters of what I will be able to do. So far, so good though. It feels pretty decent when running."
Healy's return can't come quick enough for O'Connor after he watched his Leinster front row dismantled by Joe Marler and Harlequins in the last two weeks.
Marler has been touted as an England starter in the Six Nations but such is Healy's laid-back nature, he is happy for the opposition to be talked up as he stays focused on his own abilities.
"It doesn't really matter to me," he smiled wryly.
"It's handy enough if they (England) forget about me and I come back and take their scrum apart.
"It's all about getting back to the right place and getting picked," he said.
"I'll tip away at my own stuff underneath and let them do all they want.
"It doesn't matter how good their scrum is. If you start thinking you have to have a bigger game for a bigger team, you are going to slacken off on other games," Healy added.