Emergency ward Ulster
Ulster's injury bulletin was worse than anticipated yesterday with the loss of FOUR key men for the crucial back-to-back Champions Cup clashes with Toulouse, beginning at the Kingspan Stadium on Friday night.
Darren Cave, Iain Henderson, Dan Tuohy and Peter Nelson were all injured in the 14-7 PRO12 victory over Edinburgh last weekend and will now miss the games against the Top 14 giants with only centre Cave set to return in the short-term.
Full-back Nelson faces the longest spell on the sidelines after he dislocated his left mid-foot in the win over Edinburgh with the injury and resulting surgery set to end his season.
Eleven-times Irish capped lock Tuohy was originally thought to have the best chance of a swift return to action but a scan revealed a fractured right ankle and ligament damage.
While it is still to be decided if he requires surgery, the 30-year-old is out for at least two months.
Henderson suffered a "significant" tear of his left hamstring which will be reviewed by a surgeon but, as revealed by the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, he is unlikely to play again this year.
Cave shipped a shoulder injury and will miss both games against Toulouse but could be back to face Connacht in the league on Boxing Day. The quartet join Irish internationals Jared Payne, Tommy Bowe and Stuart Olding in the treatment room.
There was better news on Roger Wilson, who missed the Edinburgh game with a back spasm, with both the No.8 and hooker Rob Herring declared fit.