Lee Byrne will have the plaster removed from his fractured thumb this week ahead of a potential return to action in time for the crucial Heineken Cup fixtures against London Irish and Toulon later this month, his region, the Ospreys have confirmed.

He has been sidelined since suffering the fracture during the Wales V New Zealand game at the end of November, but Ospreys Head Physio, Chris Towers, has confirmed that Byrne is close to making a comeback, saying: “This Saturday is six weeks post injury and Lee is having the plaster removed at the end of this week. He is eager to be back playing as soon as possible, and we will be looking to accelerate his return, with a view to making him available for selection for the London Irish game.”