EXPECT experimentation. On both sides.
Kerry boss Tom Howard told us to expect an experimental side and IT Tralee boss Colm Duffy is the midst of something of an injury crisis.
"I'd have loved to have played them before Christmas," Duffy says.
"If we had played them then I feel we would have given them a right good game. Since then we've had a lot of injuries and with the Christmas break, the players are off college this week, and things we're not sure what we have."
Duffy will have a number of Kerry senior players available to him for this weekend's game – Colm Harty, Jason Leahy, Anthony Fealy, Darren Delaney in goals and Darren Wallace are all fit for the game, while a few other Kerry players are on the injury list at present, Jason Bowler, John Egan (who's out long term) and Causeway's Byran Murphy. Other likely IT starters on the injury list include Cork Under 21 player Eamonn Murphy and Carrigaline's Sean Conlan (a corner-forward).
Duffy will have a number of influential players from the team which faced Kerry in the Waterford Crystal Cup last year – wing-back Michael Cleary from Offaly, corner-forward Padraig O'Connor from Limerick and former Limerick Under 21 Mark Deegan – available. Not as good as it could have been admittedly, but that's none too shabby at the same time.
We're still not sure what kind of team Howard is going to select for this weekend's fixture. Local lad Darragh O'Connell seems likely to be in the starting fifteen for the Kingdom in O'Dorney on Sunday afternoon. Crotta O'Neill's Shane Nolan is another man likely to feature up front. From Ballyduff expect a smattering of Boyles led by Aidan Boyle, with Liam and possibly Padraig also featuring.
Howard won't have any player available from county finalists Lixnaw owing to Finuge's participation in the All Ireland intermediate club football championship semi-final on January 27. That's a big blow. That rules out John Griffin from Kerry's midfield. His industry and vision will be missed for certain. To make up for the shortfall in senior players Howard has indicated he will look towards players from last year's minor winning team – it wouldn't be a surprise if Daniel Collins got his first senior start in O'Dorney – and from last year's Under 21 squad.
That's all good. This is the time of the year to blood these young guns. To see whether they're up to the pace of it and with guys like O'Connell and Nolan and the Boyles in the side they can safely be expected to triumph. Well you'd imagine so anyway. Until we see what sort of a team Kerry field and what sort of a team IT Tralee field we can't say for certain. So much is in flux right now.
Howard has indicated that pre-Christmas training was something of a wash. That's not great. Then again he's indicated that numbers have massively improved in the new year. There's so much in flux at the moment it's hard to get a read on this Kerry team.
There's also the fact Kerry will have to do without their new manager on the sideline and in the dressing room on match day for this game and for all games in the Waterford Crystal Cup until he has served his supsension. That's a blow. You want him there giving his imput, getting a feel for his players and how they react and don't react in various situations.
Still an IT win would have to be considered a shock.