DAVID Howell says a cloud of uncertainty remains over the seriousness of a shoulder injury as he prepares to tee off at the Irish Open today.

The 43-year-old tore his shoulder at a golf day last month and has been managing the problem ever since with extensive physiotherapy.

Leading up to he BMW International Open in Germany a fortnight ago, Howell was attempting to persuade his doctor that he did not need an operation to rectify the complaint.

Since then, Howell admits the injury became marginally better, as it allowed him to compete in Germany as well as last week’s Open de France.

However, as the two-time Ryder Cup winner prepares to tee-off at Ballyliffin Golf Club today, Howell says the shoulder is "playable but nowhere near normal".

“The shoulder seems sort of stable in terms of it is playable, but it is nowhere near normal and I’m still keeping an open mind on how it is going to pan out,” he said.

“It is terrible timing for this to happen. My practice is restricted, it’s in the forefront of my mind all the time and there is lots of physio.

“It’s not ideal and I’m not sure how it is going to play out in the long term. I’d say there are signs of it improving, but its nowhere near normal and I don’t know if it ever will be again.

“Time will tell, but hopefully as the days go by, it will get a bit better. I do have to be very thoughtful about the work I do, so it’s not ideal.”

In Paris last week, Howell missed the cut following a hefty 10-over-par second round, which left him 13-over for the tournament.

While the Swindon man says that score didn’t reflect his round, he is looking forward to putting it behind him, and getting under way in Ireland.

“Last week was a little bit disappointing," said Howell.

"I had the strangest of weeks in France because I missed my tee time, so I had to put that behind me.

“I like that course because it’s a tough test. My score on Friday didn’t reflect how I played, it was just one of those days.

“It’s a links course and I haven’t played one for a while, so it is a bit of a different challenge and we’ll see what it brings.

“It would have been nice to go into it with the confidence of a decent week last week but I can’t have that and thankfully we all start on a level-par on Thursday morning.”

Howell tees off his first round at 2pm this afternoon, playing alongside Ireland’s former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.