Anscombe insists he won't rush Ferris back into action
Regrettably, for Ireland and Ulster, the return of Stephen Ferris to match fitness will be later rather than sooner.
The flanker will not play in either of Ulster's first two matches next month in the Heineken Cup and the time of his return is shrouded in such doubt that coach Mark Anscombe admitted he was not sure he had included him in the official Heineken Cup squad.
Anscombe will, of course, be able to add Ferris to his squad after the initial two rounds of competition in the European championship but he stressed Ulster's determination not to risk further aggravation after Ferris' serious injury by reintroducing him prematurely to competition.
"I think he is (included) ... actually I'll have to check that. You've got me there!" Anscombe laughed when the subject was raised.
Ulster's patience with Ferris' recovery is understandable given his lengthy injury-enforced absences and set-backs suffered in recent times. Last season was a write-off after he had to undergo a second ankle operation during the Six Nations when it had been hoped he would be available for the final two games.
"The last thing we want to do is rush Stephen back," said Anscombe. "We want to take our time with him and make sure he's right.
"Again, with a history of what happened with him, the last thing we want to do is to be forcing a return. If it takes an extra month, I think in the long run that's the smarter option rather than trying to target a date and trying to force him back in the side."
So unlucky has Ferris been with injuries that Anscombe is simply hopeful he gets back playing ... irrespective of a timeline.
"I just have my fingers crossed that he does make a recovery and plays," he added. "Not just for himself but for the people that love watching him play."