KERRY will be without several of their established players for the McGrath Cup and the early rounds of the Allianz League, which starts with a trip to Croke Park on February 1 to face All-Ireland champions Dublin.
Marc Ó Sé, Declan O'Sullivan, Kieran Donaghy, Darran O'Sullivan and Killian Young are not expected to take part in the McGrath Cup next month, nor is any of that quintet expected to play against Dublin on February 1 or against Derry a week later in the Allianz League.
Young is still recovering from the ankle injury that cut short his Championship season earlier this year, while Darran O'Sullivan is also recuperating from hip surgery he underwent last month. Kieran Donaghy is also being treated for a minor injury and isn't expected back into action until late February.
Ó Sé and Declan O'Sullivan are taking an extended winter break and are not expected back playing competitively until the third round of the League on March 2 when Kerry travel to Castlebar to play Mayo.
The Dr Crokes players on the Kerry panel - Colm Cooper, Johnny Buckley, Kieran O'Leary and Fionn Fitzgerald - will also be unavailable until at least round 3 of the League owing to their involvement in the All-Ireland Club Champiolnship, while Tomás Ó Sé and Eoin Brosnan have retired from inter-county football.
It will leave Kerry naming quite an inexperienced panel for the McGrath Cup.
Established Kerry panelists such as Paul Galvin, Anthony Maher, Donnchadh Walsh, Brendan Kealy and Bryan Sheehan are expected to play in the McGrath Cup, alongside Shane Enright, David Moran and James O'Donoghue, but much like last year manager Eamonn Fitzgerald will use the McGrath Cup to take a closer look at some new players the management are considering.
Although the third-level colleges have first call on players for the McGrath Cup, it is understood the Kerry management will request to have a few of their college based players released to the county team for the McGrath Cup.
Defending McGrath Cup champions Kerry face IT Tralee on January 5, and if successful will face either CIT or Mary Immaculate College in the semi-final a week later. A possible McGrath Cup final against Cork is fixed for January 19.