KARL Lacey will make his first start for Donegal since last year's All-Ireland final in Sunday's Ulster final against Monaghan.
The Footballer of the Year replaces Declan Walsh in Jim McGuinness' team having recovered from keyhole surgery on knee cartilage last month.
"It's a huge lift to us," McGuinness said last night when he revealed the team. "Karl has been working very hard to get his fitness back with the strength and conditioning coaches in Dublin and he has made great strides."
Donegal's other main injury concern, Neil Gallagher, misses out for the second year in a row due to strained knee ligaments. Twelve months ago Gallagher was an absentee in the 2-18 to 0-13 win over Down with a chipped bone in his ankle.
McGuinness believes Monaghan will present his team with a stern test to their three-in-row Ulster bid. "We are on red alert. It will be a very tough battle," he said. "Hopefully the team we have put out will be strong enough to do the business.
"Monaghan will be very hungry. I feel the players are ready for the challenge. They look the sharpest they have been since the All-Ireland final."
Donegal (Ulster SFC final v Monaghan) – P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; A Thompson, K Lacey, F McGlynn; R Bradley, R Kavanagh; M McHugh, L McLoone, David Walsh; P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden.