For a change, the Mets like their chances of starting a season with two dependable lefties in the bullpen.

After relying primarily on Tim Byrdak the last two years — but unable to find a complement to the veteran lefty — manager Terry Collins likes the five options in camp this year.

Josh Edgin is already locked into a spot if healthy, while Robert Carson, Pedro Feliciano, Aaron Laffey and Scott Rice battle for the second lefty role.

“When we got Edgin, you saw obviously the makings of a guy that has a chance to be special,” Collins said yesterday. “Then when Carson came up and got his opportunity, we thought we had a chance to have two pretty good ones down the road. We come into this spring with five legitimate candidates, which we haven’t had in the past.”

Byrdak has returned on a minor league deal, but likely

won’t be an option until at least July after surgery last summer to repair a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder.

* Daniel Murphy returned to New York for an MRI exam on his sore right rib cage, but the Mets did not have results of the test immediately available. Murphy is expected back in camp today, but likely will be sidelined for at least a week.

* Collins is unsure when Frank Francisco will begin throwing, as the right-hander deals with swelling in his right elbow. Francisco told the manager he was feeling “better” recently but was unsure about a timetable for throwing.

“I said, ‘Remember, you’ve got five weeks, so when you’re ready we’ll start the process, but the minute you try to push is when you’re going to be down longer than you would think,’ ’’ Collins said.

Bobby Parnell will close if Francisco is not ready for Opening Day.