FOLLOWING a period of bad injury news and speculation on fitness of players, it was refreshing on Tuesday to see two prominent names return to the Ulster squad playing list.
Backrow pair, Roger Wilson and Stephen Ferris, were the notable inclusions in the 26-man provisional squad to face Dragons in Newport on Friday night as Ulster return to the RaboDirect PRO12 campaign.
It is timely news on Ferris after missing both Heineken Cup Pool Four games over the past fortnight with a back injury given that Ireland will also announce a squad today ahead of the November Guinness Test series.
However, his return has been overshadowed slight by the fact Wilson is back in the senior squad.
The No 8 already has 116 caps with Ulster but since returning ‘home’ in the summer after a four year stint with English Premiership side, Northampton Saints, he has not been involved due to a serious hamstring injury sustained while playing with his former club at the end of the season.
It has been a long way back for the towering Wilson, but he has had game time in the past fortnight with the Ulster Ravens in the British & Irish Cup.
He scored two tries in the narrow loss in Bristol on Sunday and it was expected he would be named on the matchday 23 for this week’s game against the Dragons.
Also returning from injury is international prop, Declan Fitzpatrick.
He has been troubled with a recurrence of a medial ligament injury in the past two months.
He has undertaken full training in the past week and is keen to get much needed game time with the hope that he too will be named in the Ireland squad today.
With skipper Johann Muller ruled out for at least eight weeks with a thumb injury the captain’s armband returns to Chris Henry who last led the side in the impressive away win over Cardiff Blues last month.
ULSTER PROVISIONAL SQUAD:
Forwards: Rory Best, Nigel Brady, Tom Court, Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick, Adam Macklin, John Afoa, Lewis Stevenson, Dan Tuohy, Iain Henderson, Stephen Ferris, Mike McComish, Chris Henry (capt), Nick Williams, Roger Wilson.
BACKS: Paul Marshall, Ruan Pienaar, Niall O’Connor, Paddy Jackson, Paddy Wallace, Luke Marshall, Darren Cave, Andrew Trimble, Tommy Bowe, Craig Gilroy, Jared Payne.