Ulster could be down to two available specialist centres for this week’s United Rugby Championship clash against Scarlets at Kingspan Stadium after Stewart Moore was ruled out through injury.
The 22-year-old injured his knee against Northampton Saints two weeks ago and still has not recovered sufficiently to feature against the Welsh region on Friday night, leaving head coach Dan McFarland short of bodies.
James Hume has linked up with the Ireland squad this week ahead of their warm-weather training camp in Portugal and will definitely be unavailable, leaving Angus Curtis and Ben Moxham as the only remaining options.
Stuart McCloskey may yet play in the game, although McFarland admitted in Tuesday’s press briefing that the former Ireland international was “unlikely” to feature against Scarlets.
Long-term absentee Luke Marshall is believed to be slowly edging towards a return, although an exact date is not yet known and he surely would not be able to start in his first game back due to a lack of game-time, while Ireland international Will Addison is also still out long-term.
Meanwhile, Ulster have been bolstered by the return of loosehead prop Andrew Warwick, who has been removed from the return to play protocol after sustaining a concussion against the Saints two weeks ago.
The Ballymena man will return to compete for game time with Eric O’Sullivan and Jack McGrath, who impressed against Clermont last week, and prospect Callum Reid.
There was no update on the status of scrum-half John Cooney, although McFarland added on Tuesday that he, too, was “unlikely” to play at Kingspan Stadium.