Karl Lacey for Donegal against Derry

Peter Campbell, Spor

Reporter:

Peter Campbell, Spor

Karl Lacey for Donegal against Derry
Karl Lacey is back in contention for Donegal’s opening National Football League game against Derry on Saturday night (MacCumhaill Park, 7 p.m.)

Karl Lacey is back in contention for Donegal’s opening National Football League game against Derry on Saturday night (MacCumhaill Park, 7 p.m.)

The Four Masters man took part in an in-house game in Ballyshannon on Saturday and came through it well. His likely inclusion sees another of the All-Ireland squad back in harness. That has been part of the plan in recent weeks with the gradual return of experienced men in the squad.

“Karl came through the game well and hopefully he will have no reaction and should be ready for the weekend,” said manager, Rory Gallagher.

Saturday’s game will come too soon for Neil McGee, David Walsh and Colm McFadden, but the manager says that apart from this trio, he has a strong hand for his opening National League game.

Big Neil Gallagher sat out Saturday’s game with a niggle but will be okay for Derry.

Saturday’s game also saw the return of Patrick McBrearty, Darach O’Connor and Ryan McHugh, who will all be in Gallagher’s plans for Saturday’s encounter.

The manager confirmed that Odhran MacNiallais, who missed the McKenna Cup game against Fermanagh with a hamstring strain, will be fit to play.

He will have to plan without newcomer Eoin McHugh; the young Kilcar player is out with a virus, which the manager says will keep him out for a couple of weeks.

“I would be happy enough going into the game. We will be anxious to get a good result but then the other 31 managers setting out next weekend will be in the same boat.

“I’m really looking forward to the game. There is a great local rivalry between Donegal and Derry and it will be a good test for us,” said Gallagher.

When the sides met on the first Sunday of the New Year in Owenbeg, the Oak Leaf side were easy winners, 1-16 to 0-8, but Donegal had a very inexperienced side on duty. They will be much stronger this weekend and will expect a different result.

Saturday’s game will have Sligo referee, Marty Duffy, in charge.