HENRY Shefflin's record of never having missed a championship match for Kilkenny under Brian Cody is in danger due to doubts over his recovery from his latest injury.
Since making his SHC debut for the Cats in 1999 against Laois, Shefflin has started every one of Cody's 62 championship games in charge, but that incredible run could be about to end.
Kilkenny selector Martin Fogarty has admitted that there is "a major question mark" over Shefflin's availability for their Leinster campaign SHC opener against Offaly on June 9.
Fogarty said that there was "no timescale" for the 34-year-old's recovery and indicated that with a rehabilitation that could not be rushed, there were no guarantees about when or if Shefflin would make a full recovery in time to see summer action.
Shefflin broke a bone and damaged ligaments in his left foot during Ballyhale Shamrocks' Leinster Club SHC semi-final defeat to Oulart-The Ballagh last December. With the true extent of the injury not being confirmed immediately, Shefflin had to wait for surgery that included the insertion of pins into his foot.
The nine-time All-Ireland winner has been in a foot splint and on crutches until two weeks ago and had a planned procedure on wednesday at Blackrock Clinic in Dublin to determine the progress of his recovery. Shefflin's determination is legendary and he has repeatedly defied the medics to come back from cruciate knee ligament and shoulder injuries in the past two years.
While Fogarty had yet to hear any results from the tests when contacted last night, he said it would be very difficult for Shefflin to be in peak condition in a little more than eight weeks' time.
"There wasn't any setback" Fogarty explained, when quizzed on Shefflin's visit to the Blackrock Clinic. "He was just back with his doctors. He's no further on than he was.
"We can't put a time on it yet. He had surgery on his foot and it's just a case of wait and see what'll happen with it, whether it comes right or not."