GUINNESS PRO12: Backline trio out for Ulster, but Jared Payne could still face Zebre

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Ulster will again be without centre pairing Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey as well as utility back Louis Ludik for this weekend’s rearranged Guinness PRO12 game against Zebre in Belfast.

All three are expected to be available for the away game against Newport Gwent Dragons at the end of the month.

The trio had already missed last week’s 19-7 win over Treviso which mean’s Les Kiss is not able to perhaps freshen up or rotate his squad as he would have liked for this final game in a straight block of five fixtures.

Luke Marshall is currently with the Irish squad and is a potential return to Belfast to come into the midfield where he could team up with fellow international Jared Payne.

It had been anticipated Payne could go straight in the Ireland team to face Wales in Cardiff on Friday night, but he has an ankle issue and may not be rushed back for the crunch game.

Payne had only returned to action two weeks again in the away win over Zebre after been sidelined with a kidney issue since late November.

He played the full 80 minutes of the win over Treviso - and scored a try - last Friday night, but it later transpired he had taken a knock to the ankle.

He did not train with Ireland on Monday.

Kiss was optimistic Payne could be involved with Ulster if he did not make the Irish cut.

“His ankle is clear of any major structural issue. It is just swollen sore, he just jarred the joint and we will see how he goes tomorrow (Wednesday) and we will get clarity then.

“It was during the game on Friday night. It worsened as the weekend went on. It is really accelerating in its improvement now.”

Meanwhile, prop Rodney Ah You is expected to be available for selection following injury and Kiss expected to name him on the bench, while lock Alan O’Connor, also returning from injury, is likely to start in the second row.

One option Kiss may consider this weekend is starting Stuart Olding at outhalf.

The centre had a late camoe run in the number 10 shirt last weekend.

It would give options to play Peter Nelson, Charles Piutau or Jacob Stockdale at fullback.