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Darren Cave in battle to be fit for crunch clash with Leinster

By Michael Sadlier

Darren Cave is a doubt for Ulster's crunch Guinness PRO12 clash with Leinster at the Kingspan Stadium on Friday week.

The centre left the field in last Saturday's 27-20 bonus point win over Connacht with a tightened hamstring and is undergoing treatment though there was no indication as to whether the in-form 28-year-old will be available to play next week.

Should Cave not make it for what appears to be the likely position of inside centre then Stuart McCloskey, who came on last Saturday for his first involvement since his red card in February, or possibly Luke Marshall, available again after his ban, are the likely candidates to wear the number 12 shirt.

The prognosis is clearer for full-back Louis Ludik who is expected to be fit for the Leinster game which will secure Ulster a top four finish should they triumph.

The South African suffered bruising to his ribs in the Connacht game and, though clearly in some discomfort after being taken off in the second half, should be available for next week's fixture.

Meanwhile, Ulster winger Michael Allen has been strongly linked with a move to Edinburgh at the end of the season.

The Emerging Ireland player is believed to be on his way out at Ulster where opportunities have been hard to come by with Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy in the squad.

It is also thought that the 24-year-old may be going to the Scottish capital for three years and aiming to qualify for the national side through residency.

Confirmed to be on the way out of the squad next season are Ross Adair and Charlie Butterworth who are both joining Jersey.

Twenty-year-old Adair made one senior competitive appearance for Ulster and scored a try off the bench on his debut at the Dragons last month.

Wicklow-born Butterworth never had a competitive outing after the 24-year-old back rower came to the Kingspan Stadium last summer from Lansdowne.

Sean Cronin says Leinster must produce their best performance of the last number of seasons if they are depose European champions Toulon in Sunday's semi-final.

The hooker admitted that the Blues' season is on the line after their Guinness Pro12 title defence hit the rocks in Newport last weekend.

Leinster are likely to be without Wallaby Kane Douglas for the Stade Velodrome clash due to a back injury. Shane Jennings is touch and go after suffering concussion.

Leinster trained at their UCD base yesterday and Ireland hooker Cronin said: "It (the season) is in the balance. It is a massive game in terms of our season.

"It is totally out of our hands in terms of the league play-offs. This is probably do or die.

"Most definitely, some lads are going to have to play the best they've played this season, in a few seasons, if we are going to come any way close to a result.

"We're going down there to give it a lash. We're going down to try and play the way we wanted to play and the way we have, at times, this season. We're going to give it a right go."

Belfast Telegraph


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