Fitzpatrick hails 'great boost' as Louth duo return from US
Louth will wait for official clearance from Croke Park before thrusting John O'Brien and Mick Fanning back into action this week, manager Peter Fitzpatrick confirmed yesterday.
The pair have caused a surprise by their return home from the United States and are now in line to be involved against Carlow next week when Louth start their Leinster championship campaign.
However, Louth's third 'emigrant' from last year's Leinster final team, midfielder Brian White, remains in Australia, and contrary to speculation he will not be returning.
The trio left Ireland at different times over the winter in search of work and their absence was expected to impact heavily on Louth's progress.
But against expectations, the Leinster finalists secured promotion to Division 2, claiming the Division 3 title back in April with a final victory over Westmeath.
O'Brien was a hugely influential defender last season and gained recognition as an All Star nominee in the full back-line.
Fitzpatrick said Louth had to be careful that the players were eligible to take part, because they had both played football during their time away.
"It's a case of making sure everything is in order. I'm sure it is. But we're expecting word back from Croke Park today some time. We don't envisage a problem," he said.
Fitzpatrick said he was surprised to discover that the two men were home.
"It was a surprise. There had been rumours that they might be coming back alright. It's a great boost to Louth, once everything is found to be alright," he said yesterday.
Fitzpatrick expects to assess their fitness this week, but they were not involved in a challenge match against Roscommon in Darver last night.
O'Brien and Fanning left Australia earlier this year and headed for Boston. The indications were that they would not return at all this year.
Fanning was the team's regular centre-back in 2010.