Ulster will discover today whether Stephen Ferris, Clinton Schifcofske and Paul Steinmetz are fit for Saturday’s Heineken Cup clash against Harlequins on Saturday.
Schifcofske, who injured his knee ligaments during the 26-10 defeat to Stade Francais, is the biggest concern of the trio having had a scan on his injury on Monday, while Ferris (ribs) and Steinmetz (head) are expected to be fit for the trip to London.
The Ulster medical team however will assess all three today to see if they will be able to be included in Matt Williams’ squad for the Pool Four clash.
Ulster, who haven’t faced Harlequins since the clash at Ravenhill in 1996 when the English side triumphed 21-15, must break their duck on English soil if they are to keep their European Cup hopes alive.
But the London side, who defeated the Scarlets 29-22 at Stradey Park having stage a remarkable second-half comeback, are determined to keep pace with Stade Francais at the top of the table.
“The win against Scarlets gave us the great start we needed and the confidence to really believe that we can take on the best that Europe has to offer,” said Harlequins captain Will Skinner.
“Ulster have traditionally been a good side and very competitive in the Heineken Cup. They lost a few players at the end of last season (one being one of Quins' newest signings, Neil McMillan) but I am sure they will be determined to spoil our home game this Saturday.
“But it will be great to be playing back at home and in front of the Quins supporters.”
Meanwhile, while former Ulster coach Mark McCall is also facing a must-win clash against Edinburgh in Castres after the French side’s 25-11 defeat to Wasps.
McCall, who along with fellow Ulsterman and former Dungannon coach Jeremy Davidson, guided Castres to a fifth place finish in the French Top 14 Championship after joining the club midway through last season, believes his side can still progress.
“We worked very hard last season to get ourselves in a position to play in the Heineken Cup in a match like that against a team like Wasps,” said McCall, whose men drew the second half 8-8 after a nervous start in High Wycombe.
“We suffered from a lot of injuries early on in the French season but we were determined to bring the best squad that we could over here. We didn’t have the team that did so well for us last year but we brought the best that we possibly could.
“At 20-3 we could have caved in but we showed a lot of spirit. We were very pleased that we did that. It gives us a real eye opener for our players as to the kind of level Wasps played at today.
“We started the season with 15 or 16 of the 32-man squad unavailable, which is more normal for the end of the season than the start. Gradually, they’re all coming back and I think one of the reasons we were so blown away physically in the first half was that a lot of our players were playing their first fixtures.
“We’ve got some very important French Championship matches coming up and we need to get some momentum built into our season. On the back of a fighting performance today, we need to try and get a win at home against Edinburgh behind us. We’ll try and give it everything for the rest of our matches.”