Rory McIlroy is recovering well from the ankle injury which has prevented him from defending his Open title this week, although no date has been set for his return. Press Association McIlroy ruptured an ankle ligament playing football with friends on July 4 and announced four days later he would not compete at St Andrews as he took a “long-term” view of the injury. Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke suggested that meant McIlroy would not return until “early next year” as he accepted an award on his fellow Northern Irishman’s behalf at the Old Course on Tuesday. But it is understood Clarke’s comment was meant as a joke and a spokesman for McIlroy told Press Association Sport: “There was no basis for Darren’s comments. Rory’s rehabilitation is progressing well but his return date is not yet known.” McIlroy, who could be unable to defend the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on August 6 and the US PGA Championship the following week at Whistling Straits, will be replaced as world number one if Masters and US Open champion Jordan Spieth succeeds him as Open champion on Sunday.