Ulster hit by four injury blows as province prepare for Clermont clash
Ulster have confirmed three players have suffered long-term injuries following last weekend's Heineken Champions Cup win over Bath at The Recreation Ground.
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The biggest blow has seen former Wallabies lock Sam Carter ruled out for approximately three months with a shoulder dislocation sustained in the first half.
The 30-year-old, who joined Ulster in the summer, has been a regular fixture in the line-up this season - starting five of their seven games - but will now have to watch from the sidelines.
Carter injured the shoulder making a tackle in the first half of Ulster's 17-16 triumph on Saturday and was seen in a sling following the game.
Dan McFarland will now have to turn to the second row corps he had at his disposal last season, with Alan O'Connor set to start against Clermont Auvergne at Kingspan Stadium this Friday in Ulster's second Champions Cup game.
Winger Rob Lyttle, who has had no luck with injuries in his career already, will also miss between six and eight weeks with a shoulder injury picked up at The Rec.
The 22-year-old, who has been one of Ulster's top performers this season and recently signed a new three-year deal with the province, was hurt in the second half and had to be withdrawn after initially playing on.
That means Louis Ludik could be in line for a start against Clermont having come off the bench against Bath, while Craig Gilroy and the returning Robert Baloucoune will also be pushing for inclusion.
In a further blow, former British and Irish Lions prop Jack McGrath is also set for a spell on the sidelines having aggravated a thumb injury in the first half of Saturday's victory, which will require surgery.
Eric O'Sullivan is likely to deputise when Clermont come calling on Friday after a strong cameo against Bath, with Kyle McCall odds on to be named on the bench.
Meanwhile, flanker Marcus Rea will be stood down for six weeks after fracturing his jaw on club duty with Ballynahinch as they picked up their second win of the season away to Dublin University.
Belfast Telegraph Digital