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Roger Wilson and Ruan Pienaar in race for fitness to face Leinster


Major doubt: Roger Wilson’s shoulder injury will be assessed later in the week by medical staff

Major doubt: Roger Wilson’s shoulder injury will be assessed later in the week by medical staff

?INPHO/Presseye/Russell Pritc

Major doubt: Roger Wilson’s shoulder injury will be assessed later in the week by medical staff

Ulster coach Neil Doak must wait until later in the week before finding out whether he will have Roger Wilson and Ruan Pienaar available for the trip to face Leinster at the RDS on Saturday.

Wilson - who captained the side against Connacht on the occasion of his 300th senior appearance last Friday - picked up what appeared to be a knock to his shoulder during the narrow win and was forced from the field with 12 minutes remaining.

So bereft are Ulster of backrow options at present, given the absence of Chris Henry and Nick Williams, young hooker John Andrew was pressed into action at flanker.

Understandably, therefore, Doak will be sweating on the availability of Wilson for the Sky-televised clash with the PRO12 champions, but Ulster's medical team yesterday confirmed that the injury would need to be evaluated in the coming days.

While there had been reports yesterday that star scrum-half Pienaar had already been ruled out of the trip to face the side currently directly below Ulster in the league standings, that was said to not be the case.

Pienaar suffered a strained knee against the Ospreys before Christmas and, while there had been hope he would feature against Connacht, he did not recover in time.

Similar to Wilson, how the 30-year-old comes through the week will determine his availability for Saturday.

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It is expected that Rory Best and Tommy Bowe will both be cleared to feature in the now sold-out clash after missing the Connacht victory thanks to the IRFU's player management protocols.

Leinster will also have their frontline internationals back in the fold after they too missed out on Boxing Day.

The likes of Sean Cronin, Rob Kearney, Mike Ross and Devin Toner were all absent for the province's defeat to Munster at Thomond Park but are available to feature on Saturday afternoon.

Matt O'Connor - who will have sympathy for the injury headaches endured by Doak this season - was also finally handed some fitness boosts with the news that centres Fergus McFadden and Ben Te'o are both ready to return to action.

Te'o - signed following the retirement of the legendary Brian O'Driscoll - broke his arm when making his debut against Edinburgh back in November and subsequently required surgery.

The league convert is, however, now available again and could feature off the bench against Ulster.

McFadden is back after a thumb injury that has kept him on the sidelines since the end of November and he has only played sporadically this season after also suffering an ankle injury.

And there was also good news on a further trio of Irish internationals, although none will make the game on Saturday.

Tight-head Marty Moore could be back next week, loose-head Cian Healy is aiming for a return in time for the resumption of the Champions Cup next month, and there is a remaining possibility that openside Sean O'Brien could make his first Ireland appearance since the last-gasp defeat to New Zealand in November 2013 during the Six Nations.

Belfast Telegraph