Ryan McHugh in action against Monaghan on Sunday
Donegal look set to be without Ryan McHugh for Sunday’s crunch Allianz National League clash with Mayo in Elverys McHale Park, Castlebar. (Throw-in 2 pm)
The All-Star defender, one of Donegal’s leading performers in Donegal’s great league run, looks set to miss the game with an ankle injury.
He suffered the injury in the second half of last Sunday’s draw with Monaghan in Fr Tierney Park.
He was due to have a scan on the injury today (Wednesday), in Letterkenny General Hospital.
The injury is not believed to be as serious as first feared. Nonetheless, he is unlikely to be fit to face the Connacht men, as Donegal make a final push for a place in the Division One League final. It is believed that he may be three or four weeks on the sidelines.
Donegal are currently in second place in the league table, a point behind the reigning league and All-Ireland champions.
They are ahead of Monaghan - who are also on eight points - on score average. Monaghan host Dublin this Sunday in Clones, in their final game.
A win will automatically qualify Donegal for the league final while a draw and even a narrow defeat, depending on results elsewhere, may enough to reach the final.
This is also a big game for Mayo, who turned around an indifferent league campaign and two defeats on the trot against Dublin and Cavan, with a narrow win over Tyrone in Healy Park last weekend.
The Westerners are currently on six points, level with Kerry and just two ahead Cavan.
Cavan, despite their lowly position, could catch Mayo, if they defeat bottom team Roscommon. That game is in Dr Hyde Park, and if Cavan win and they end up in a head to head with Mayo, it is the Westerners who would make the drop to Division Two next season.
This, of course, would be dependent on Kerry either drawing with or beating Tyrone in Killarney.
Four time All-Star Karl Lacey would seem to be a readymade replacement for the injured McHugh.
The former footballer of the year made a welcome return to action last Sunday against Monaghan.
He was introduced from the bench in the middle of the second half and looked comfortable in his first outing of the campaign.
The Four Masters man was dogged by injury all of last year but after a winter of rehab he has shaken off the groin injury that sidelined him.
Rory Gallagher, ahead of the Tyrone game, had targeted the Mayo game as a return date for Lacey.
Meanwhile, the Donegal boss will not have to worry about the seniors in the Donegal U-21 team who were due to face Cavan in Ulster U-21 semi-final as the game was called off due to a waterlogged pitch in Enniskillen.
Kieran Gillespie, Eoghan ‘Bán’ Gallagher, Cian Mulligan, Michael Carroll, Jamie Brennan and Michael Langan are all members of the U-21 team are members of both squad.
They all featured in last Sunday’s draw with Monaghan.
There was also speculation that Jason McGee, another member of both squads, was close to a return from injury.
McGee suffered a shoulder injury in the Cavan game at the beginning of the month and hasn’t played since.
All the Division One games on Sunday have a 2 pm throw-in time.