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Ulster pair return to training in injury boost ahead of prolonged international window



Ulster's Billy Burns.

Ulster's Billy Burns.

©INPHO/Craig Watson

Ulster's Billy Burns.

Ulster welcomed Luke Marshall and Billy Burns back to training on Tuesday as the province prepare for their return to PRO14 action this weekend.

Dragons will be the visitors to Belfast on Sunday with Ulster looking to maintain both their two-from-two start to the new season and an unbeaten record at Kinsgpan Stadium that stretches back a little over two years.

With Jacob Stockdale, Stuart McCloskey and Rob Herring on Ireland duty, and Iain Henderson having been due to join them before being handed a three-week ban, Dan McFarland's side will be forced into a few changes from the win over Ospreys two weekends back.

And while both Marshall and Burns are still easing their way back in, their presence at training alone will provide a boost ahead of what is to be a longer than usual international window that will see the Ireland stars absent until mid-December.

"In terms of injuries, we won't have many coming back but I think Billy Burns is close so it's good to see him back in training and Luke Marshall as well," said the side's attack coach Dwayne Peel.

"Those are two big positives to see those guys back running around."

Burns has missed the last two weeks having had to be replaced during the Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Toulouse last month while Marshall has yet to play since lockdown after a hip problem.

"Lukey, it's been a tough couple of months for him," Peel said. "He seems to be looking good so we're looking forward to seeing how he goes and we'll hopefully see him back on the pitch shortly."

Ulster will also have Craig Gilroy, Mike Lowry and Bill Johnston back for this weekend while their opponents, seeking back-to-back league wins for a first time in almost four years, look set to be without their six-strong Wales contingent who are already with Wayne Pivac's squad for the Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup.

Belfast Telegraph