Ulster hopeful over Henderson fitness for Cardiff Blues game

Iain Henderson
Iain Henderson featured in Ireland's last two autumn internationals against New Zealand and Australia

Ulster hope to have international pair Iain Henderson and Stuart McCloskey available for Saturday's Pro12 game against Cardiff Blues.

Versatile forward Henderson, who scored a try in Ireland's 27-24 win over Australia on Saturday, is expected to overcome a slight shoulder problem.

McCloskey is set to return after suffering a fractured bone in his foot against Glasgow earlier in the season.

Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne will miss the game through injury.

Both Irish internationals are major doubts for a crucial forthcoming series of fixtures, including the European Champions Cup double-header with Clermont Auvergne in December.

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Jacob Stockdale can play on the wing or at centre for Ulster

Trimble and Payne sustained injuries in the hard-fought victory over the Wallabies at the Aviva Stadium and are still waiting to find out the full extent of their problems.

Trimble is suffering from an ankle injury, while Payne has a rib injury which means he is likely to have played his last game of 2016.

Centre Stuart Olding damaged a hamstring while training with the Ireland squad at Carton House, but his injury is regarded as the least serious of the three.

Rory Best and Paddy Jackson will miss the trip to Cardiff under the IRFU's player management programme, but prop Rodney Ah You is available after not featuring since the Champions Cup triumph over Exeter in October.

Flanker Chris Henry is in line for his first appearance of the season after being named in the line-up for the home game against Zebre, which was called off on Friday night because of a frozen pitch.

Ulster have dropped to sixth in the Pro12 table after suffering four consecutive defeats, but have a game in hand over their rivals above them in the standings following the postponement of their game with the Italians.