BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL are confident that Neil Gallagher will be able to play, but Mark McHugh is rated as only ‘50/50’ to feature for Donegal in Sunday’s crunch National Football League clash against Kerry at Sean MacCumhaill Park (throw-in, 2pm).
Gallagher has been feeling the effects of a hamstring strain, with McHugh troubled by a calf muscle strain in the wake of Sunday’s heated defeat against Tyrone in Omagh.
While neither player was able to partake in training on Tuesday night, they were again to be assessed last night
, with the management more optimistic on the percentages of Gallagher.
“We’d be fairly certain that Neil will be ok, but Mark is just 50/50 at the minute,” Rory Gallagher, the Donegal assistant manager, told the Donegal News yesterday afternoon.
“He was out for so long and is picking up wee niggles now here and there. It’s not an overly serious thing and he might yet make it.”
The assessments on the duo, both All-Stars in 2012, will go a long way in determining the line up of Donegal for the game against a Kerry side that is coming to Ballybofey searching for a first League win of the year.
On the whole, there won’t be too many changes from the side which lined out in Omagh. If both are fit, both will play.
Patrick McBrearty is a strong contender to return to the starting XV on Sunday, with a slight positional rejig set to see Gallagher, if as expected he’s passed fit, set to return from the off to his natural sentry at centrefield having been positioned at full-forward for a time last weekend.
McBrearty, then, will be pushing Martin McElhinney hard for a place in the side which will be along routine lines with management keen for the likes of Gallagher, Paddy McGrath, Frank McGlynn, Colm McFadden and Neil McGee (who’ve all had injuries of late) to continue getting as much game time as possible, while Ross Wherity should keep his place.
In terms of a possible return for Karl Lacey, the 2012 Football of the Year, who remains sidelined with a hip injury, Gallagher said that hopes of a comeback by the end of the month were ‘optimistic’.
“We’d be delighted if Karl was back in training anytime between April 1st and April 12th,” said Gallagher who noted that it was ‘more unlikely than likely’ that the Four Masters ace would play in the League with his rehab geared to being ready for the game against Tyrone on May 26th.
David Walsh, Gallagher added, is ‘continually improving’ though he too is ‘unlikely’ to play in the League as he has not yet returned to contact training.