Ulster bank on Jacob Stockdale return for crucial Racing clash
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland says he is "hopeful" that winger Jacob Stockdale will be fit to start in Saturday's crunch Champions Cup clash with French heavyweights Racing 92 at Kingspan Stadium (3.15pm).
The province have a real hope of making the last eight in Europe for the first time since 2014 and would breathe a huge sigh of relief if their try-scoring sensation, who has not played since December 14, was fit to return.
"Yes, but I'd say that even if he was out for nine months," said McFarland when asked if he hoped to have Stockdale available.
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Ulster named a youthful line-up for Saturday's 40-7 defeat by Leinster, including four Academy players and two debutants in the replacements.
McFarland is likely to make wholesale changes for the Racing game, though, with Irish internationals Rory Best, John Cooney, Jordi Murphy, Will Addison and Stuart McCloskey all set to return.
One player who may have featured, however, seems sure to be ruled out after Kyle McCall picked up a nasty knock in Dublin.
"I feel so sorry for Kyle," added the coach. "He was so desperate to start. He was out for a long time at the beginning of the season, just when he was hungry to fight for his place, then to suffer that. I do not want to pre-empt things but it did not look good."