Volcano ready to erupt
Vainikolo could return for crucial Heinekan clash
By Joe Drabble. Last Updated: January 16, 2008 3:33pm
Vainikolo: Could return for Ulster clash
As Gloucester prepare for Sunday's crucial Heineken Cup clash with Ulster, they are boosted by the news that winger Lesley Vainikolo could return to the squad in time for the match at Kingsholm.
Vainikolo has been in New Zealand after suffering a second family bereavement after his father Solomone died not long after the tragic loss of his brother Kava.
Coach Dean Ryan and his staff will decide whether Vainikolo is in the right frame of mind to feature on Sunday - with the Volcano due to return back into England at the end of this week.
Vainikolo, who was last week handed a call-up to the England Six Nations squad would be a huge asset to the Gloucester side if available - the hosts must beat Ulster to top Pool Two and book a home quarter-final.
Gloucester are already without influential lock Alex Brown, who is ruled out for eight weeks after fracturing his arm in the 32-15 Heineken Cup defeat to the Ospreys.
Brown has had surgery to have a plate inserted - the same procedure he faced last season after an identical injury against Harlequins.
"We took every measure we could to move as quickly as possible to start his recovery process," Ryan told the Gloucestershire Echo.
"He is obviously a significant member of our squad and I think any side would miss such a key individual at this stage.
"But we have been in this situation before and will manage. Alex is a quick healer and we will give him all the support he needs."
Lock Will James could come into contention for a start against Ulster, or Ryan may move Peter Buxton from the back row to partner Marco Bortolami.