Andrew Trimble could end a nightmare nine months by making the Ireland squad for this year’s Rugby World Cup.
The Ulster winger has been out since October last year having injured a toe playing against Glasgow in the Guinness PRO12.
He had been due to make a comeback in March, but suffered a further setback.
However, on Wednesday he was named in Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt’s 45-strong training squad and has the opportunity of proving his fitness and stake a claim for a place in the final 31-man squad for the World Cup in England which starts in September.
Craig Gilroy, who has impressed since getting a regular start in the Ulster side in Trimble’s absence is included in the training panel along with British Lion, Tommy Bowe.
Ulster back-row Chris Henry is again included, having marked his international return from a mini stroke last November with a try for Ireland against the Barbarians last month.
“The squad selection has been a long process with some very tight decisions,” said Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.
“Some injured players who are getting close to full fitness have been included while others have missed out due to prolonged absence or lack of opportunity to demonstrate their full Test match readiness.”