Magners League: Ulster handed triple boost for Ospreys battle
Ulster will have young backs trio Nevin Spence, Craig Gilroy and Luke Marshall available for Sunday evening's clash with the defending Magners League champions the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.
Spence had been drafted into the Ireland senior squad after a fine performance in the Wolfhounds victory over Ireland but has been released by Declan Kidney.
Gilroy scored two tries last weekend in the Ireland Under-20s victory over Italy and Marshall started that game as well but the IRFU have allowed them to play for their province this week.
Andrew Trimble has recovered from a hand injury and although is omitted from the Ireland matchday squad he has not been released. It's Ulster's first outing since clinching a Heineken Cup quarter-final spot and coach Brian McLaughlin is looking forward to getting back into action.
“We're looking forward to going to the Ospreys on Sunday as it is our bread and butter, it's a huge game for us coming off the back of two weeks without a game, the Ospreys have been ticking over in the LV Cup so it's a big test for us,” said McLaughlin.
Ulster have an important three weeks coming up in the Magners League if they want to make the top four and the end of season play-offs but McLaughlin wants the players to put Europe to the back of their minds.
“The players have wanted to get to the quarter-final after what happened to us in Bath last year and it was one of our stated goals, it has given us huge confidence and a huge lift but we don't want to put too much emphasis on a quarter-final before it arrives because we have got some big Magners League games to play,” he added.
“It's important we do well in those to take us into the Northampton game, we're not getting carried away and we're hoping the mood in the camp and that extra carrot will help us improve our performance in the next six or seven weeks.”
Lock Dan Tuohy faces a spell of up to six weeks on the sidelines after suffering an injury to his quad muscle while training with the Irish Wolfhounds.
South African prop BJ Botha faces a race against time to be fit for the Northampton game.
He under went surgery for an elbow injury and is due out of plaster tomorrow, Botha will then start a rehab programme and McLaughlin is hoping he will face the Saints. Darren Cave is recovering from his hamstring injury and could get game time in the next two to three weeks with Belfast Harlequins.
FORWARDS: J Cronin, D Fitzpatrick, P McAllister, B Young, A Whitten, N Brady, A Kyriacou, R Caldwell, N McComb, J Muller, T Barker, P Wannenburg, TJ Anderson, W Faloon, C Henry, R Diack.
BACKS: R Pienaar, P Marshall, I Humphreys, N O’Connor, I Whitten, N Spence, J Shiels, L Marshall, S Danielli, T Seymour, C Gilroy, M McCrea, D McIlwaine, J Smith, A D’Arcy