Big guns on the mend for Ulster's Ospreys battle
The injuries were always going to feature on the post-Castres agenda and, on the whole, Mark Anscombe was fairly upbeat that three key players would be returning for Ulster’s next game at the start of February.
Johann Muller, Dan Tuohy and Luke Marshall are looking good to go against the Ospreys at Ravenhill on February 8 while it is hoped that Stephen Ferris will hopefully be back playing at some point next month.
However, the prognosis is not so encouraging regarding the hoped for returns for Tommy Bowe, Nick Williams and Jared Payne while Roger Wilson may now also be an addition to the injured list.
Bowe suffered knee ligament damage in December’s Heineken Cup defeat to Northampton Saints at Ravenhill, and it is believed that his injury may mean he will not even be ready in time for the Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Saracens in late April which will be a massive blow for the Ireland and Lions winger.
Meanwhile, there are doubts over Wilson’s fitness after he aggravated the hamstring that kept him out at the start of the season after he was forced to leave the action early during Saturday’s 9-8 win at Castres. The number eight was due to have undergone a scan to ascertain the extent of any damage to his troublesome hamstring.
Williams is still at least six weeks away from returning after he shipped a medial ligament injury against Glasgow in the Heineken Cup while there is also no sign of Jared Payne coming back any time before March due to his ongoing groin problems.
Elsewhere, skipper Muller who broke his arm in the stunning win at Northampton Saints and the Springbok should be ready for Ulster’s next game when they take on the Ospreys in just over two weeks’ time.
Also expected to be fit in time for the Ospreys clash are second row Tuohy and centre Marshall who have been missing with calf and finger injuries respectively.
And barn-storming flanker Ferris, who had surgery on an ankle he damaged back in November, is also expected to be back in harness at some point next month.
Looking ahead to the impending European quarter-final with Saracens, Anscombe said: “We have a lot of time between now and the quarter and hopefully that allows time to heal.
“Like all teams when you come to the business end of the season you hope you have a full contingent of the squad to select from.”