Bowe was expected to be out until March after sustaining a shoulder injury against Leinster on 6 January
Pro14: Ulster v Edinburgh
Venue: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast Date: Friday, 16 February Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Two NI and the BBC Sport NI website

Tommy Bowe will make an earlier than expected return to Ulster duty in Friday’s crucial Pro14 game against Edinburgh at Kingspan Stadium.

Bowe’s shoulder injury was expected to keep him out until early March.

Jean Deysel, Louis Ludik and Bowe replaced injured Sean Reidy, Charles Piutau and Rob Lyttle while hooker Rob Herring also starts.

Edinburgh’s five changes from the win over Leinster include the selection of Cornell du Preez and John Hardie.

Number eight Du Preez is welcomed back from Scotland duty while Hardie makes his first start after a lengthy “gross misconduct” suspension and will partner Bill Mata in the back-row, with Jordan Lay drafted into the front row.

Wing Jason Harries will make his first Pro14 start since the round four game against Scarlets and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne returns at scrum-half.

Rejuvenated Edinburgh are three points behind Ulster in Conference B and they play each other twice in the next two months as they battle for what looks likely to be the final qualification spot behind Leinster and Scarlets.

Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill says Ulster are favourites for the game despite the “difficulties” they have had this which led to Les Kiss’ departure two weeks ago.

“I expect them to be confident, but I’m also confident and I believe in our playing group,” said Cockerill.

“If we lose on Friday night, it’s not the end of our play-off hopes. For us it’s nice, as a team, that we’re putting ourselves in the position where we’re actually competed for play-offs – which is a step forward.”

Ulster: Ludik; Gilroy, Marshall, McCloskey, Bowe; McPhillips, Cooney; Warwick, Herring, Herbst; O’Connor (capt), Treadwell; Rea, Timoney, Deysel.

Replacements: Andrew, McCall, Ah You, Dalton, Henry, Stewart, Cave, Busby.

Edinburgh: Fife; Harries, Bennett, Dean, Van Der Merwe; Van Der Walt, Hidalgo-Clyne; Lay, Cochrane, McCallum; McKenzie (capt), Carmichael; Mata, Hardie, Du Preez.

Replacements: Fenton, Sutherland, Millar Mills, Bradbury, Crosbie, Fowles, Weir, Bryce

This content was originally published here.