Ireland could be in line for a major boost after it emerged that back-row forward Stephen Ferris could yet play a part in the upcoming Six Nations.
Ferris had ankle surgery in December to repair tendon damage sustained in a PRO12 clash with Edinburgh and missed all of November's Tests.
However, Ulster coach Mark Anscombe has given a positive bulletin on the 27-year-old blindside's rehabilitation that will delight Ireland supporters.
"Stephen Ferris, mid-February, fingers crossed, all going well," he told BBC Sport.
Regarding the fitness of fellow international Tommy Bowe, Anscombe urged caution over the wing and doubted he would be fit to play in their Heineken Cup quarter-final against Saracens.
"That would be pushing it," said the Ulster coach.
"We've got to be very careful with such a serious injury that he had. We don't want to be rushing it. We've got to look at the longer-term effects of where it's at."