Tommy Bowe battle with a groin injury is continuing to delay his return to playing.
It had been hoped the British Lion winger might return to action last week for Ulster in the RaboDirect PRO12 meeting with Ospreys - his last action prior to that was with Ireland against New Zealand at the end of November.
But head coach, Mark Anscombe, confirmed he had suffered a set back in training which ruled him out of last week’s game and he was not hopeful of him making an appearance against Scarlets at Ravenhill this Friday night.
On Tuesday, Ulster assistant coach, Neil Doak gave a downbeat assessment.
“He (Tommy) is doing a little bit of running but I cannot see it,” he said. “I am not 100 per cent certain what is wrong. He obviously had a bit of a groin issue and that is basically what’s grumbling on.
“Like most of the guys they seem to get to a nice point and then it isn’t quite right.”
Doak added: “We would obviously like to get Tommy back as soon as possible - as would Ireland.
“Hopefully he can get a few games for us and that might put him in the back end of the Six Nations.”
Although Ireland have won their opening Six Nations games against Scotland and Wales with wingers, Andrew Trimble and Dave Kearney impressing, Bowe’s name has continually crept up in pre and post match interviews with Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt, his backroom staff and players - indicating that they, like Ulster, were expecting him to have potentially returned by now.
Schmidt said after the 26-3 demolition of Wales that if Bowe was to have any chance of being involved against England on February 22, then he needed to play for his club this weekend.
It is now looking seriously doubtful that Bowe will feature at all in the Six Nations.
After Scarlets at home this weekend, Ulster go to Treviso for a Sunday game on the weekend Ireland play England.
There is another week’s break in the Six Nations before Ireland meet Italy at home and then face France in Paris in what could be a potential Championship decider.
Prior to Italy, Ulster face NG Dragons.
From an Ulster perspective they would want a fully fit Bowe available for their Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Saracens on April 5 .
Meanwhile, Paddy Jackson is expected to be involved with Ulster this weekend even though he is at the Irish training camp in Clonmel.
Schmidt had indicated last week that a number of players would be released to their clubs .
Jackson has had cameo appearances for Ireland off the bench - although he scored a try and a conversion to put the icing on the cake in the 26-3 win over Wales in Dublin last week.
Given that he would be in Clonmel, it would be expected he would get a place on the bench and James McKinney would be afforded another opportunity at flyhalf.
Although Darren Cave suffered a hyperextension injury to his left knee in the win over Ospreys last week he is expected to be available to face Scarlets.
However, Lewis Stevenson was on the clock to be fit.
The lock suffered a forced flexion of his neck in the game against Ospreys. He was scanned on Monday and would be assessed as the week progressed.
Iain Henderson and Luke Marshall were both expected to see more game time this weekend after their late release by Ireland last week.
Henderson is also in the mix to be involved in Ireland’s game against England.