ULSTER have their fingers crossed that Irish international wing Andrew Trimble could be available for selection against Leicester Tigers in the Heineken Cup opener at Ravenhill on October 11.
The 50 times-capped 28-year-old, who will celebrate his 29th birthday on October 20, picked up a serious finger injury in the first week of the 2013-14 RaboDirect PRO12 campaign.
On September 12, the date on which Ulster revealed that Trimble had suffered the injury, their estimate was that he would be missing for four-to-six weeks.
But having undergone surgery, he is reported to be right on track for a best-case-scenario recovery, thereby giving rise to fresh hope that he may just make it in time to face the Aviva Premiership champions who provided six of last summer's British and Irish Lions – Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Geoff Parling, Manu Tuilagi and the Youngs brothers Tom and Ben.
Fellow-Ulster wing Tommy Bowe already has set a benchmark on such matters. He staged a remarkable recovery during that Lions tour, defying medical opinion by returning in time to face Australia in the second Test just three weeks after undergoing surgery on a broken bone in his hand.