Fergal Conway spies a Lily return after eye socket surgery

Kildare’s Fergal Conway.

Frank Roche

Fergal Conway is back in the frame as Kildare attempt to upset the All-Ireland qualifier odds against Cork in Thurles this Saturday.

The Celbridge defender started the summer as Kildare's first-choice centre-back but has missed their last three-and-a-half games following surgery to repair an eye socket fractured during their Leinster SFC replay win over Laois.

However, having resumed full contact training, he returned to competitive action last weekend when playing half a game for his club.

It remains to be seen whether Conway can force his way straight back into a team that has recovered from that 19-point debacle against Dublin by registering back-to-back qualifier wins over Offaly and Longford.

Yet, having made his SFC debut against Louth last summer, he had been a mainstay for Ryan until he came off a bloodied second best when caught in the face during the first half of the Laois replay in Tullamore.

He returned after several minutes of treatment, only to be permanently replaced at the interval.

Following surgery last month, his manager explained: "Initially we knew he had a pretty serious concussion and a very bad cut above his eye. X-rays showed there was no break but then he went for a CT scan and they found that there was a break ... he is going to be out for three to four weeks and is very, very disappointed, I'd go as far as to say upset, that he is not able to play. But for his own health, if he played and got a bang it could lead to permanent vision issues. It's a risk that just wouldn't be right to take."

Eoin Doyle has since taken Conway's place while the fit-again Peter Kelly is another defensive option, having come off the bench against Longford.