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Ferris hopes to take step towards Ireland return with start at Dragons

Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris will start for Ulster when they travel to Rodney Parade for Friday's clash with the Dragons -- provided he comes through a fitness test later in the week.

Ferris has been troubled by a back spasm which has ruled him out of both Heineken Cup pool ties this season. He has shown improvement this week and will be keen to see some action with the autumn internationals looming.

Meanwhile, Roger Wilson will be on the bench for the senior side following his second outing for the Ravens last weekend, when he scored a couple of tries in the 34-28 loss to Bristol.

Prop Declan Fitzpatrick and Niall O'Connor have also been added to a 26-man squad, with Chris Henry named as captain. Henry steps into the role vacated by Johann Muller, who will be out for at least eight weeks. The flanker says it could take Ulster a little time to settle down, moving between the two competitions.

"Playing in Europe is such a step up but as experience has shown, you have little time to adjust back to the bread and butter of the league," said Henry. "The Dragons will be a difficult proposition. But the fact that we have not been beaten yet has given us a lot of confidence. We know that can change very, very quickly and we have to get our heads right."

Ulster (squad v NG Dragons) -- Forwards: R Best, N Brady, T Court, C Black, D Fitzpatrick, A Macklin, J Afoa, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, I Henderson, S Ferris, M McComish, C Henry (capt), N Williams, R Wilson. Backs: P Marshall, R Pienaar, N O'Connor, P Jackson, P Wallace, L Marshall, D Cave, A Trimble, T Bowe, C Gilroy, J Payne.

Irish Independent