BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THE soundings from the Donegal camp last night were all positive ahead of Sunday’s Ulster SFC quarter-final against Tyrone – with management confirming that they expect to have a fully-fit panel from which to select the 15 men to go into the trenches against the Red Hands.
There have been serious injury concerns over the fitness of All-Stars Karl Lacey, Frank McGlynn and Mark McHugh, but all three are now said to be over the worst of their ailments and in line to face Tyrone in Ballybofey.
2012 Footballer of the Year Lacey has not played for Donegal since the All-Ireland final, but he came through the 70 minutes of a 3-14 to 2-12 challenge win over Roscommon on Wednesday night.
That game was part of a training camp, with the Donegal squad based in Johnstown House in Co Meath from Tuesday until returning home yesterday.
“Time is the only thing that has been against Karl. He is back in reasonable shape and played the 70 minutes of the game,” the assistant manager, Rory Gallagher, told the Donegal News last night.
Lacey had hip surgery in December and has only recently played again with his last previous outing in competitive action having been for his club, Four Masters, in the Donegal SFC semi-final, in late October.
Lacey played for his club in a recent League game in Kilcar and played in challenge games against Galway and Roscommon.
Hamstring complaints have hampered the preparations of McGlynn and McHugh, but Gallagher left no ambiguity when he said: “We have 31 in the panel and we expect all 31 of them to be fit to play.”
McHugh is in the middle of exams at the moment in Sligo IT and did not attend the training camp, though he played a part against the Rossies. His withdrawal due to hamstring tightness is not reported to be a concern, however.
Gallagher said: “He played 55 minutes and while he felt a tightness in the hamstring we would expect him to be ok for the game.”
On McGlynn, the Fermanagh native added: “Frank is working his way back to fitness again. He couldn’t take a full part in the sessions during the week, but he’s well up speed and there’s no issue with him. It’s just erring on the side of caution.”
Anthony Thompson and Rory Kavanagh have ‘niggles’ as does the goalkeeper, Paul Durcan, but the message from Donegal’s ranks last night was not one of concern, particularly for those marquee players who have been the subject of intense speculation.
On the injuries to Lacey, McGlynn and McHugh, Donegal manager Jim McGuinness told the Donegal News: “The whole lot of them have cleared up and, other than a few wee niggles, we expect to have everyone available.”
Donegal will train just once this week, on Wednesday. Management will have finalised their plan of attack by then and while a team will be released into the public domain it’s likely that there could be a decoy or two within that which is named.