Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden are back in the Donegal squad for Sunday’s crunch Allianz National Football League Division One clash of Donegal and Cork, in Sean MacCumhaill Park. (2.30 pm)
But they may be only on the bench rather than going straight back into the team due to concerns over their fitness and ability to last a full 70 plus minutes of National League football.
They both have been out through injury and have played no part in Donegal two games to date in the campaign against Down and Laois, with McFadden not featuring in the green and gold since last summer’s All-Ireland semi-final meeting with Dublin.
Murphy has been in rehab for the best part of two months following groin surgery while McFadden had been laid low with a back problem.
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness told the Democrat that he will be watching both players closely in training this week before he makes a final decision on whether or not to start them or keep them in reserve.
The manager did however hint that he may come down in favour of opting to introduce them if the need arises.
“We will be monitoring the two lads this week, but it is too early to say yet whether or not they will be fit enough to start on Sunday.
“We will be watching them closely at training tonight (Tuesday) and again on Thursday night but it really is too early to say at this stage.
“Michael came on last weekend in the closing stages of both games and was going fine and I have spoken to him since and he has had no reaction and is feeling good. But he has been out of action for the best part of two months and he may not be up to a full 70 minutes of a National League football.
“We are going to have to wait and see how he goes in training but one thing’s for sure he will be on the bench and available to us to come on if we need him.”
“It’s the same for Colm (McFadden). He has missed three to four months and is only back three weeks, so it is matter of bringing him back up to speed and working on his sharpness and ball handling again.”
McFadden’s St. Michael’s club mate, Christy Toye, who has also missed the two opening league game with tendonitis in his shoulder, is back fully fit and in frame for Sunday’s as Donegal bid for their first points of the campaign. The only other injury worries for the manager are David Walsh and Adrian Hanlon, who sat out training on Tuesday night.
However, McGuinness is planning this week without the other St. Michael’s man in his squad, Martin McElhinney. McElhinney is out with a suspected fractured ankle suffered in the opening game against Down. It is understood the midfielder is due to have a second X-ray on the injury this week.
With no points from their two games Sunday’s encounter with the Rebels and reigning League champions is a crunch game for McGuinness and Donegal as they bid to get away from the foot of the Division One League table.
Yet, despite the perilous situation and with the threat of relegation hovering, the Donegal boss was still very upbeat this week and was remaining very much on message that the big day in the Donegal calendar was May 20th and Cavan in Kingspan Breffni Park in the championship.
“Our targets are the exact same as last year and they have not changed since we set out at the start of the year. The goal last year was to stay in Division Two, and pick up a number of players along the way for the championship and the goal this year is to retain our Division One status and pick up a number of players and be ready for Cavan on the 20th of May.”
Hegarty calls it a day
One man McGuinness will not have with him in Cavan is long serving star forward Michael Hegarty (pictured above). The manager has confirmed that the talented Kilcar man has called time on his county days and has retired. McGuinness and Hegarty spoke last week and the Kilcar man informed the manager that he was going to concentrate on club football.
Cork come to Ballybofey having been hit with the penalty of losing home advantage for their upcoming tie with Laois. The reigning league champions have three points, a draw with Armagh and a big home victory over Down last time out.