O’Sullivan is targeting a fifth win in the tournament, which he first won as a 17-year-old in 1993, but a mishap while running in Essex this week means he will not go into the York event in top physical shape.
The 38-year-old posted a picture on Twitter of him resting up his left ankle, which was severely swollen, adding the note: “Might be one legged Snooker at the #UKChampionship on Thursday.”
However tournament organiser World Snooker has confirmed O’Sullivan “intends to play” his match against Daniel Wells today.
Meanwhile six-time world championship finalist Jimmy White will face Ding Junhui in the second round after a 6-2 victory over fellow veteran Dave Harold last night.
Ding awaits after a routine 6-0 dismissal of John Sutton and White is excited by the challenge.
“I’m up for that,” said the 1992 champion. “This is what I play the game for, to play the top players. It’s good to have a crack at him.”