Ireland stars set to return
Published 29/11/2006 | 00:00
A couple of niggling injury concerns is likely to see Ulster coach Mark McCall name a 25-man squad today for the mouth-watering clash with Leinster at Ravenhill on Saturday.
The only certainty is that Andrew Trimble, who starred for Ireland in the victory over South Africa, and Tommy Bowe will not be available.
Trimble has not played since the defeat of the Springboks after he suffered a tight hamstring and he will not be risked given the importance of the back-to-back Heineken Cup fixtures against London Irish which follow the Leinster clash.
Bowe is also ruled out as his rehabilitation continues having injured his hamstring in the victory over Toulouse last month.
Trimble will no doubt miss the chance to go head-to-head with his rival for the Ireland no 11 shirt, Denis Hickie, at Ravenhill but Ulster are right not to take any risks with him at a time when the pitches are heavy.
If the absence of Trimble and Bowe is a setback, then at least McCall is boosted by the return of his Ireland contingent.
Bryan Young, Rory Best, Neil Best, Isaac Boss, Paddy Wallace all return to the squad having missed the victory over the Border Reivers, while Bryn Cunningham has recovered from the shoulder injury which kept him out of that game.
Scott Young and Paul McKenzie, who enjoyed an impressive cameo off the bench against the Borders on his Ulster debut, are expected to keep their places in the 25-man squad given Trimble's and Bowe's absence, with Mark Bartholomeusz likely to switch to the wing in place of Trimble. Grandstand and promenade tickets are already sold out for the game, with limited availability in the Titan Stand and terrace.
ULSTER SQUAD (probable):
(Backs): Bryn Cunningham, Mark Bartholomeusz, Scott Young, Paul McKenzie, Paul Steinmetz, Kevin Maggs, Paddy Wallace, Adam Larkin, David Humphreys, Isaac Boss, Kieran Campbell, Paul Marshall
Simon Best, Bryan Young, Justin Fitzpatrick, Rory Best, Paul Shields, Justin Harrison, Matt McCullough, Tim Barker, Roger Wilson, Neil Best, Kieron Dawson, Stephen Ferris, Neil McMillan.