As Ulster seek to begin the New Year in the same manner that they signed off 2011, prop Paddy McAllister is their chief injury concern ahead of Friday night’s next PRO12 League challenge at Edinburgh (7.30pm).
The 22-year-old prop left the field with a leg injury in the second half of last Friday night’s crucial 33-17 bonus point win over Munster — a result that after the other weekend results still leaves Ulster in eighth place — and underwent a scan yesterday to ascertain what damage may have been sustained in the aftermath of having to be helped off the pitch in the 63rd minute.
Should McAllister not be fit for selection then Callum Black or possibly Declan Fitzpatrick — if he has recovered sufficiently from the neck injury that has sidelined him recently — could come into the mix as cover for the expected return of Tom Court to Ulster’s loosehead prop position.
Ulster’s Ireland international contingent were all expected back this week and it is believed that Stephen Ferris (pictured), Andrew Trimble and Rory Best will be available for selection for the trip to Edinburgh ahead of Ulster’s season-defining Heineken Cup games which are now looming on the horizon after the visit to Murrayfield.
Elsewhere on the injury front, it was still unknown how many, if any, of Ulster’s other sidelined players would be back in action this week.
Paddy Wallace, Luke Marshall, Paddy Jackson and Nevin Spence are all currently nursing injuries.
Though it is entirely possible some of those could be back in the mix for the trip to Edinburgh, it seems more likely that any returning players may have involvement in the forthcoming European games which will decide who wins Pool Four — Ulster are currently leading the group — and automatically progresses to the quarter-finals.
As for both Tim Barker and Simon Danielli, it was hoped that their bouts of sickness would allow them come back into the reckoning after Barker was forced to leave the field during Boxing Day’s clash with Leinster while Danielli had already been ruled out due to a vomiting bug that also kept him and Barker out of action for last Friday.
Meanwhile, Stefan Terblanche has spoken of how important it was for him to get an 80-minute performance under his belt after arriving in Belfast last month to provide temporary cover for the injured Jared Payne.
It was a night of firsts for the 36-year-old former Springbok as he marked his first starting appearance in an Ulster shirt by not only scoring his first try for the side but he also helped create a score for John Afoa who also crossed the line for his initial score since coming to Ravenhill.
“It was a really good performance and I was really delighted to get off the mark, though it was really good work by Darren Cave on the inside that created it for me,” Terblanche said after playing on Ulster’s left wing on Friday night.
“It was a great result and it’s always good to play in front of a sell-out crowd.
“We said at half-time that at some stages we were playing really well but there were also some moments of madness in there and in the second half we put them under a lot of pressure.
“The backs get all the high fives but it’s the front row, or really front five, we can really thank for that and the second half was a really good performance,” he added.
“I was a little bit disappointed not to get a second try,” Terblanche admitted.
“I looked up and there was a prop in front of me so I just should have gone but John (Afoa) scored from it so it was good work from the guys.”
Meanwhile, Payne’s long road back to fitness from his ruptured Achilles reached a new phase recently and the Kiwi is expected to shortly begin his rehabilitation programme in the aftermath of undergoing surgery.
Though it is highly unlikely the full back will return to action before the end of the season, it is possible that he might just get some game time in if he makes rapid progress with both his rehab and fitness programmes.