The rebuilding job facing incoming Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has been dealt an early blow with the news that Jack Conan is expected to miss the entire 2020 Six Nations.

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The Leinster player left the World Cup early after suffering an injury when a team-mate stood on his foot during a training session before Ireland’s pool stage game against Japan.

Leinster have now confirmed that Conan will be out of action for up to six months after undergoing surgery last week, ruling him out of Ireland’s 2020 Six Nations campaign.

Conan had been expected to start in the Japan game having impressed in Ireland’s opening pool win against Scotland, where he started on the bench before replacing the injured Peter O’Mahony after just 26 minutes.

The injury is the latest setback in what has been a frustrating international career so far for Conan. The 27-year-old won his first cap in summer 2015 but had to wait two years to add to that. So far he has been capped 17 times, but has generally found the path to the starting XV blocked by Munster’s CJ Stander despite consistently delivering for Leinster.

New Ireland head coach Farrell takes over from Joe Schmidt following Ireland’s abysmal 46-14 World Cup quarter-final defeat to New Zealand. The former England assistant coach will be expected to shake up the starting XV in response to a hugely underwhelming 2019 campaign, but will now have to do so without one of Ireland’s more dynamic back-row options.

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Leinster also confirmed that Sean Cronin will be assessed later this week after retuning from the World Cup with a neck injury.

Watch: Joe Schmidt and Rory Best’s final Ireland press conference

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