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Fit-again Wallace set for Ulster return

Paddy Wallace has taken advantage of last week's postponed Magners League game against the Ospreys to get himself fully fit for Friday's crucial Heineken Cup match against Edinburgh at Ravenhill.

Wallace was unlikely to feature against the Welsh side after exacerbating the ankle injury sustained in the victory over South Africa in November. However, the cold snap has helped Wallace's rehabilitation and he will start against the Scots who have already recorded a home win over Ulster in Pool 4.

The Ireland centre will probably be joined in the midfield by Darren Cave by virtue of the fact that he was wheeled out to face the media yesterday when coach Brian McLaughlin named a 27-man squad at their thawed-out training HQ at Newforge.

Cave will come in for Ian Whitten while the biggest query is likely to come in the back-row where Willie Faloon is still extremely doubtful with a shoulder injury, but countering that both TJ Anderson and David Pollock have both recovered from leg knocks and will vie for the No 7 jersey.

There is also the thumbs up for Stephen Ferris and his chronic ankle problem. Ferris is due to fly to Dublin today to give further evidence to the ERC Disciplinary Panel in regards to the alleged eye-gouging he was on the receiving end of during Ulster's victory over top-placed Stade Francais in December.

Ian Humphreys, who has now shed his bushy beard after picking up a £50 bet from one of the coaching staff, is likely to feature again at out-half with Isaac Boss his half-back partner.

The rest of the team will undoubtedly be the same as that which put one over Munster two weeks ago. But coach Brian McLaughlin knows that only a win, and a big win will suffice if second-placed Ulster are to go further in Europe.

"Friday's a massive game; we are all itching to get back to a game," McLaughlin said.

"Friday night cannot come quickly enough. We have got some great training sessions in at the 3G pitch at the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland and at a similar facility at Ashfield Boys' School. The players are all fully focused on Friday's game, they are all ready to get up and that it."

Squad in factfile

Irish Independent