Ferris out for crucial European clash

Ulster's Stephen Ferris remains out of the squad due to injury.

Ulster are set to go into Friday's crucial Heineken Cup game against Northampton with an almost full-strength side, but it has been confirmed that Stephen Ferris is still out with an ankle injury.

Tuesday, 04 December 2012
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Tuesday's preliminary squad announcement did bring good news for Rory Best though, as he could make his first start after recovering from a neck injury.

There will also be returns for the likes of Ruan Pienaar, Chris Henry and Jared Payne - who were all rested for Ulster's weekend win over Scarlets.

But Lewis Stevenson, Declan Fitzpatrick and Adam Macklin remain sidelined through injury.

Experienced hooker Nigel Brady, development prop Ricky Lutton and outside back Michael Allen come in to provide the management team with further options.

Ulster will face Northampton again next week in the second of their double header.

They already have nine points from the opening two rounds of the competition - three more than their opponents to date.

And if Ulster win both matches and keep their winning streak going, they will not only stay top of their Heineken Cup pool, but it will go a long way towards securing qualification for the next stages - which could include a home quarter-final at Ravenhill.

Ulster Provisional Squad

Forwards (16): Rob Herring, Rory Best, Nigel Brady, Ricky Lutton, Callum Black, Tom Court, John Afoa, Neil McComb, Johann Muller, Dan Tuohy, Iain Henderson, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Mike McComish, Roger Wilson, Nick Williams.
Backs (11): Ruan Pienaar, Paul Marshall, Paddy Jackson, Paddy Wallace, Luke Marshall, Darren Cave, Michael Allen, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Craig Gilroy, Jared Payne.