Stephen Ferris convinced he will play again for Ulster and Ireland

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Ulster and Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris says he considered retiring because of an ankle injury which has kept him out of the game for a year.

Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris is now convinced that he will play for club and country again after enduring many dark moments during the last 12 months when he feared his career was over.

Ulster player Ferris, 28, has been out of action for almost 13 months because of an ankle injury and has had three operations over the last year.

"I am confident I will play for Ulster again," Ferris told BBC Sport.

"There is now no pain in the ankle for the first time in 12 months."

However, 2009 Lions tourist Ferris admits that his morale hasn't always been so high over the last year since sustaining the injury in a Pro12 game against Edinburgh.

"There have times when I've walked into the house and told my girlfriend Laura that I just can't do it (the rehabilitation) any more," added Ferris.

"That I can't get up and lift weights at eight o'clock in the morning and two o'clock in the afternoon and then go home and sit on my own for a couple of hours until she comes home.

"That it's wrecking my head and getting me down and that I'm feeling a bit depressed."

However, Ferris insists that the "good days" in his recovery are now far outweighing the bad.

"Over the first six months of my injury, every day seemed like a bad day but over this second six months, most days have been good. The ankle itself is moving well and I've no pain.

"It's great to be able to run and swim and go cycling without any pain and to go out for a few beers with my friends on a Saturday night without my ankle blowing up.

"Waking up every morning and your ankle is not the size of a balloon. Every week or two you feel an improvement."

Ferris says that he feels he has been on a "long journey" since suffering the injury on 2 November last year.

"It seems for me like 10 years because I've had so many stumbling blocks," he says..

"But if I can get another six weeks of keeping this going and getting the miles clocked up, hopefully in a few months I'll be back out there playing.

"It's about taking it week to week. The physios and doctors say I can't put a specific time on it as it's how the ankle reacts to the training loads. At the minute, it's reacting well.

"It would be very easy for me to give up and say I've had a good career and been to a couple of World Cups and played on a Lions tour and won a Grand Slam (2009).

"But for me, there's another Grand Slam and another Lions tour and another 100 caps for Ulster."

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