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Peter O'Mahony will decide within the next ten days whether or not he is fit to make himself available for selection for Ireland's summer tour of South Africa.
O'Mahony has not played since tearing knee ligaments in the win over France at the World Cup in October and it was thought he would not be ready to return until September.
The Munster captain, however, is close to returning to full training and has not given up hope of joining Ireland on the three-match tour of South Africa.
"I am very, very close and I’m nearly back training with the squad. I won’t say ‘never’ but I will have to make a decision over the next 10 days, see what the story is. I have been given every opportunity but I am just going to see how training goes over those next 10 days and make a call on the rest of the season then,” O’Mahony is quoted as saying in the Irish Examiner.
"I am a rugby player, touring is one of the best parts of rugby and I love to be able to tour. Any tour you get to go on is always great. I have never been to South Africa, it is a place I’d love to go and obviously the fact we have never won there it would be lovely to go and have a nice tour and be in with a chance to set history."
O'Mahony will meet with the medical staff before making a decision but he knows he risks further injury if he returns too soon.
"Of course I’d love to go but I have to take other things into account not just my head. Of course my head wants to go but I’ll just have to see whether my body will allow me to go," he added.
"I don't want to go to South Africa and not give a good account of myself or of how I can play rugby. It’ll be partly medical staff but I've got to be honest with myself and if I'm not right I'll put my hand up."