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It has been confirmed by Ireland's team manager that Luke Fitzgerald will miss the entire 2016 Six Nations Championship.
Fitzgerald's probable absence has been discussed for several days, after that the Leinster back was hurt during an open training session on Friday.
Mick Kearney confirmed on Tuesday that Fitzgerald will not feature at any stage of the competition due to a medial ligament injury.
During a "tackling drill at the Aviva (Stadium)," revealed the team manager, Fitzgerald's "foot just got caught in the grass and he twisted his knee, so (it was) fairly innocuous and he’s unlucky to be out of the Six Nations, but I suppose it could have been worse."
Kearney added: “He was very upset, to be honest, and probably feared the worst.
"He’s had a very good run injury-wise since the end of last season, had a great World Cup and was flying right up until the open session.”
The absence of Fitzgerald, who joins Ulster's Tommy Bowe in missing the Six Nations, will be seen as a particularly significant blow to head coach Joe Schmidt's preparations, partly because of the Leinster man's ability to provide cover for virtually every position in the backs.
Fitzgerald, with 35 senior caps for Ireland, played for the British and Irish Lions against South Africa in April 2009.
The 28-year-old is expected to be out of action for eight weeks.
By David Maher