EUAN Murray’s thumb injury is not as bad as first feared and Warriors boss Dean Ryan has revealed the Scotland international could be back playing in a matter of weeks.

It was feared the 33-year-old tighthead could be out for the entire season after badly cutting his hand with an axe while chopping wood at a team barbecue.

Murray has been sidelined since November with an Achilles tendon problem and the deep cut has further delayed his return, but Ryan is hopeful the front-rower could be back to bolster Warriors’ Aviva Premiership run-in.

Ryan said: “We’re getting positive news – the healing has been pretty good – and we’re talking weeks. Whether that’s two weeks, three weeks or more, that is difficult to say at the moment.

“The healing process has got better. It was obviously a significant cut and there were some doubts about it and the ability of the body to take that skin back.

“However, we had some pretty positive news on Monday, but there is still an element of ‘wait and see’ which is why we can’t be definitive, but we are a lot more positive than we were a week ago.”

The Warriors boss added: “We haven’t had Euan for the last 12 weeks, but there aren’t any tightheads out there. Everyone is looking for a tighthead, but there aren’t many around in January.

“To be fair, Gloucester pulled one out of the bag with the signing of Sila Puafisi, but there aren’t many around and there are a lot of us looking.

“John (Andress) and Rob (O’Donnell) have done a good job for us and we’ve been relying on them for a long time now. I’d expect them to relish the opportunity whether Euan was fit or not.”