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Ulster Rugby: John Cooney ruled out of Northampton Saints clash in Champions Cup as nine players named on injury list

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John Cooney will not be part of Ulster's side in Northampton on Sunday. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

John Cooney will not be part of Ulster's side in Northampton on Sunday. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

John Cooney will not be part of Ulster's side in Northampton on Sunday. Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

John Cooney has been ruled out of Ulster’s key Champions Cup clash against Northampton Saints in Franklin’s Gardens this weekend.

The scrum-half hobbled off with a calf complaint early in the first-half of last weekend's defeat in Munster and has joined Ulster’s nine-strong injury list ahead of Sunday’s game (3.15pm kick-off).

Centre James Hume, however, remains in contention after coming off during the loss in Thomond Park with a hamstring issue.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Ulster Rugby’s skills coach Dan Soper was pessimistic about either player’s chances of being passed fit for Sunday.

"They’re being assessed," said Soper. "I really hope we do (have them available) for obvious reasons but I’m not particularly hopeful.

"They’ve been having scans.

"James had his hamstring tighten up. He felt he maybe could have kept going but with those things, as we saw with Stuart McCloskey, it’s not worth the risk."

McCloskey himself is expected back later this month although will not be ready in time for the weekend, although there was better news on Robert Baloucoune and Bradley Roberts, who are both back in training.

Winger Baloucoune suffered an injured shoulder against Clermont in the middle of last month but has made his return to training this week and could yet take on the Saints should he come through his week on the paddock unscathed.

"Covid-wise, they all tested (yesterday) so we’ll get those results (today) and we’ll keep our fingers crossed, as we have for weeks now," added Soper.

"Injury-wise, hopefully Robert Baloucoune is getting close but he’s got to get through training this week. He’s the only one that would be a major change."

Still out are the likes of captain Iain Henderson, who hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury against Saints last month and Jacob Stockdale, who has been out since the first game of the season with a foot injury and is not expected back in the next few weeks.

Ulster Rugby injury list in full

Will Addison (lower leg), Iain Henderson (ankle), Stuart McCloskey (hamstring), Tom Stewart (foot), Jacob Stockdale (ankle), Cormac Izuchukwu (knee), Jordi Murphy (knee), Matty Rea (hamstring), Luke Marshall (knee)

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