Hooker and regular captain Rory Best, who suffered a fractured cheekbone against New Zealand last month, has been included in Ulster’s extended squad for their Magners League derby encounter with Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday (kick-off 7.30pm).
Rory Best returns to the Ulster squad, with a number of team changes expected after last Monday’s disappointing 30-13 defeat to Leinster.
Best has not played for Ulster since October’s loss to Edinburgh at Murrayfield, but is hoping to make his return against current Magners League leaders Munster.
His fellow Ireland internationals Tom Court and Paddy Wallace are also available for this weekend’s tie, but Andrew Trimble sits the game out as part of the IRFU Player Welfare Programme.
Stephen Ferris is also an absentee as he continues his recovery from a leg injury.
The 30-man squad includes Phoenix Academy player Paddy Jackson, who is hoping to make his mark with the Ireland Under-20s this season.
Out-half Jackson, who is a regular for the Ulster Ravens, has made the panel as Ian Humphreys remains sidelined by an ankle injury.
There is no place, however, for teenage winger Craig Gilroy who scored Ulster’s only try in their 30-13 defeat to Leinster at Ravenhill.
The Ulster starting line-up and replacements will be announced on Friday afternoon.
ULSTER Squad (v Munster) – Backs (14): Adam D’Arcy, David McIlwaine, Jamie Smith, Simon Danielli, Tommy Seymour, Luke Marshall, Nevin Spence, Ian Whitten, Paddy Wallace, Niall O’Connor, Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall, Ruan Pienaar, Ian Porter.
Forwards (16): Bryan Young, Declan Fitzpatrick, Tom Court, BJ Botha, Jerry Cronin, Rory Best, Andi Kyriacou, Tim Barker, Neil McComb, Johann Muller, Ryan Caldwell, Chris Henry, Pedrie Wannenburg, Willie Faloon, Thomas Anderson, Robbie Diack.