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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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Injury concerns mount for Ulster ahead of Champions Cup quarter-final

Iain Henderson is a major doubt, while Will Addison and Craig Gilroy are set to miss next weekend’s showdown with Leinster.

ULSTER ARE FACING into the biggest game of their season with major doubts hanging over the fitness of three Ireland internationals, including Iain Henderson whose own injury frustrations continue.

Henderson is in a race to be fit for the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster on Saturday week, while both Will Addison and Craig Gilroy are now ‘unlikely’ to be ready for the Aviva Stadium showdown.

Iain Henderson Henderson is a doubt for Leinster. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Ulster remain hopeful that Henderson will shake off the knee injury he sustained against France two weekends ago for their first European knockout game since 2014, but the clock is ticking for the Ireland second row.

Henderson has endured an injury-disrupted couple of months after being sidelined with two separate hand injuries before and after Christmas, before suffering the knee problem in his first start of the Six Nations.

“We are hoping Ian is going to be right for the quarter-final next week,” Ulster coach Aaron Dundon said.

“At the moment, we don’t have a definite answer for that, it’s day-by-day for him and we will see next week.” 

The loss of the 27-year-old for the quarter-final tie against the defending European champions in Dublin would be a major setback for Dan McFarland’s side, who are also set to be without Addison and Gilroy.

Addison sustained a training-ground injury on international duty with Ireland during the Six Nations, while winger Gilroy remains sidelined with a back problem.

Will Addison with Leone Nakarawa Addison looks set to miss out next weekend. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

In better news for the northern province, Marcell Coetzee is due to make his injury comeback in Saturday evening’s Guinness Pro14 game against the Southern Kings in Belfast [KO 7.35pm, Premier Sports/eir Sport].

The Springbok had been sidelined for the last block of Pro14 fixtures but his return to fitness would be a welcome fillip for McFarland, as Ulster enter into the business end of the season.

While Luke Marshall remains a number of weeks away from a return, Ulster could have some of their Ireland internationals back this weekend, including John Cooney, Jordi Murphy and Rob Herring. 

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Ryan Bailey

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