Donegal's Footballer of the Year Karl Lacey admits he will be "cutting it tight" but remains confident he will be ready to face Tyrone in one of the most eagerly awaited first-round championship matches in years on May 26.
Lacey (above), who had a hip operation in the Santry Sports Clinic last December, has been back in action in full capacity on the playing field for just over a week now, but in that time he has squeezed in two matches and training sessions apiece as the countdown to Ballybofey continues.
He played for Donegal in a challenge match behind closed doors last Friday night and featured for his club Four Masters in a league match against Kilcar.
"I'm confident I'll be available. But it's too early to say yet. I have only two training sessions and two games under my belt so far. It's less (than) three weeks away, it's cutting it very tight," he acknowledged.
"Everything that's possible, I'll do it. It's down to Jim (McGuinness) and Rory (Gallagher), if they think I'm fit enough and sharp enough. That's their call."
Lacey revealed that the initial recovery period was slated as 14 to 15 weeks, but it has taken him 18 weeks to get back to full speed because he suffered a setback with a calf injury during his rehabilitation
"I've been out on the pitch the last few weeks, just running around with the physios. But last week I took part fully for the first time," Lacey continued.
"It's taking me a while. I've noticed every day I've gone up a level. Even the club game at the weekend, I felt I progressed a bit more."
Lacey has been warned of the potential for further setbacks with the nature of his injury.
"At the back of your mind you would always be cautious about it," he said.
Donegal are close to having all their players back for the first time since last year's All-Ireland final, with Mark McHugh overcoming a recent hamstring injury to play for his club last Monday.