BY CHRIS MCNULTY
ALTHOUGH he was not named in the match-day 26 that was released on Wednesday evening, Mark McHugh is said to still have a chance of appearing at some stage in Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo (Croke Park, 4pm).
The All-Star didn’t play the round 4 qualifier against Laois on Saturday evening, but the Kilcar man is believed to be making good headway in his recovery from the injuries sustained in the Ulster final.
He has been cleared of concussion and he is now not suffering further ill effects of the perforated ear drum. However, the player is still inhibited by a quad muscle tear and will be given a fitness test tomorrow evening, Saturday.
McHugh is said to be ‘recovering well’ and those close to the squad believe McHugh to have a ‘slightly better than 50-50’ chance of being able to line out against Mayo. Donegal’s medical team have been working closely with the player, who is central to Donegal’s system.
While left out of the squad submitted on Wednesday, there could yet be a late alteration that sees McHugh included.
Donegal will closely weigh up their options and, while it was suggested to this newspaper that McHugh could even be thrust into the action from the off, it seems to be an unlikely scenario.
That said, were he to pass tomorrow’s test, he could well be given the green light and is said to be ‘not far away’ from being able to feature as a substitute.
Karl Lacey has been named at centre half-back, but the big question is whether or not the Footballer of the Year will line out from the off.
Lacey played 17 minutes against Laois and has been on an upward trajectory, but Sunday’s intensity could be deemed too hot for a full-tilt outing for a player Donegal wouldn’t be too troubled about holding in reserve in the same manner as their Ulster opener against Tyrone in May.
Ryan McHugh has been selected in the starting XV, while Declan Walsh has been selected in the subs.