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Ulster's McCloskey ready to step up for Glasgow Warriors clash


Ulster out-half Paddy Jackson will be forced to sit out the Guinness PRO12 clash with Glasgow

Ulster out-half Paddy Jackson will be forced to sit out the Guinness PRO12 clash with Glasgow

Ulster out-half Paddy Jackson will be forced to sit out the Guinness PRO12 clash with Glasgow

Ulster out-half Paddy Jackson has been ruled out of Saturday's home PRO12 clash with Glasgow Warriors as a precautionary measure but should be available for next weekend's crunch European tie at Leicester Tigers.

The 22-year-old will not play any part in this week's game against the unbeaten Scots after presenting concussive type symptoms over the course of last weekend.

Jackson had left the field in last Friday's 30-0 victory over Edinburgh after taking a knock from a first half collision with Tim Visser and had passed a concussion test in the medical room which had allowed him return to the game.

After a further medical assessment on Monday it was decided that, as a precaution, he should sit out Saturday's game though it is believed that he will be back for Ulster's opening European Rugby Champions Cup clash at Welford Road on October 18.

Ulster will now either start Ian Humphreys or Stuart Olding in the number 10 shirt for Saturday.

Also on the injury front, Ruan Pienaar has returned to Belfast and could potentially be involved again at some point over Ulster's opening two weekends of European action with champions Toulon coming to the Kingspan on October 25 the week after the Tigers clash.

The 30-year-old suffered knee ligament damage in September while playing for South Africa against the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship and, should Pienaar be fit in time, his presence in the squad would be a massive boost for new head coach Neil Doak.

Elsewhere, on the injury front, Michael Allen picked up a dislocated shoulder playing for the Ulster Ravens against Connacht Eagles last week and will be out for six to eight weeks.

On a more positive note, though, Ricky Lutton, Peter Nelson and Dave Ryan have all recovered from injury and will be available for selection this weekend as will Declan Fitzpatrick whose suspension over the red card he picked up at Zebre has been served.

Meanwhile, it was always known that Ulster's midfield was likely to be a pretty congested place this season what with Jared Payne making the switch from full-back to primarily playing outside centre, leaving Ireland internationals Darren Cave, Luke Marshall and Olding to essentially battle it out to play inside the now Irish qualified Kiwi.

However, the field has now become even more crowded as Stuart McCloskey has now managed to seemingly storm to the front of that notable queue particularly after last Friday's man of the match performance in the 30-0 win over Edinburgh.

McCloskey could hardly have expected to get a huge amount of game-time this season - he only made his senior bow last February and had played four times in the last PRO12 campaign - but the 22-year-old was given a chance in last month's defeat to Zebre and still managed to come away from Parma after being one of very few indeed to have put in an attention-grabbing shift.

His powerful running lines and strength in the tackle were noted by the Ulster coaching staff who handed him a second successive outing against Edinburgh last Friday where he, again, made his mark by helping set Andrew Trimble on his way for Ulster's opening try with a great burst and one-handed offload.

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"I'm feeling more comfortable every match but that is like anything really, the more you do it the more confident you get," McCloskey said.

"There have been five different centre partnerships in five games so I think the coaches are happy with whichever partnership they put out which is great for them but it gives them a headache with selection which is maybe a good headache to have," added the former Ulster Academy player who mostly plied his trade last season with Dungannon who were then in the AIL's Division 1B.

In just two games this campaign, McCloskey - who toured with Emerging Ireland over the summer in Romania ­- has put down a marker that he can be a more than credible candidate to nail down a run in Ulster's overpopulated midfield.

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