Stephen Ferris could be back in action with Ulster on Friday night, if selected, for the trip to Newport to take on the Dragons as the club resume their RaboDirect PRO12 programme.
The influential backrow forward has been troubled by a back problem over the past fortnight forcing him out of both Heineken Cup Pool Four wins over Castres and Glasgow Warriors.
It had been speculated that he would probably not be ready for another week - and while that is yet to be seen - certainly the news was positive from Ulster Rugby on Monday.
A spokesman said: “Stephen had a weights session this morning (Monday) and reported no ill effects.”
While it is good news for Ulster, particularly in light of the loss of skipper Johann Muller for a possible eight weeks, to have Ferris back on the mend, Ireland coach, Declan Kidney will also have been keeping a close eye on the progress of the tough backrow.
Kidney is due to name his squad ahead of the Guinness November Tests on Wednesday in Dublin.
Ireland will face South Africa (November 10) and Argentina (November 24) both in the Aviva Stadium, with an Ireland XV playing Fiji in Limerick’s Thomond Park on November 17.
While the Irish have a plethora of backrow options, Kidney would certainly rather have the choice of selecting Ferris at blindside.
It was always likely that Ferris would have been named in the 30-man panel irrespective and see how he progressed in the weeks building up to the opener against the Springboks.
But having missed out on game time over the past fortnight, and in Europe in particular, Ferris would probably be keen - as would the Irish management - to get some game time with Ulster at least against The Dragons in Newport on Friday night.
With Muller ruled out for at least eight weeks, Ulster will turn to Lewis Stevenson to come into the pack this weekend along side Tuohy and Ravens skipper, Neil McComb can expect a call to the bench, with rising talent, Iain Henderson, certainly another to be considered as a second row option.
Ulster will name a provisional squad On Tuesday.