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Double boost for Lilywhites

KILDARE are confident that both Dermot Earley and Mikey Conway should be fit for the start of the Leinster championship following positive updates on the extent of their knee injuries.

Earley had a scan on Monday night and, while there is still no definitive word, the Lilywhite medics are now very hopeful that the All Star midfielder has not ruptured his cruciate ligament.

The veteran midfielder will definitely miss Kildare's concluding NFL encounter with Meath and the likelihood is that he'll be out for at least a month, but he should be back in the frame well before Kildare's Leinster SFC opener against Louth or Longford on June 5.


There is even better news concerning long-term absentee Conway, who had battled back from cruciate surgery at the end of last season only for knee tendonitis to flare up.

However, the swelling has now started to subside and latest tests have now revealed that, contrary to earlier belief, he does not have a small bone growth on the knee. The playmaking wing-back is now expected to resume full contact training within four to six weeks.

Selector Niall Carew has expressed relief on both fronts. He revealed that Earley had a small problem with his knee going into last weekend's Division Two clash with Laois, and the player pulled up sharply during the closing stages, prompting initial fears that he may have suffered a dreaded cruciate injury.

However, Carew was last night talking to Kildare doctor Danny Mulvihill who "sounded very confident" that this is not the case. Kildare now believe Earley has suffered an extension to his original tear. The player may have to undergo further tests when the swelling goes down, possibly go in for scope on his knee.

As for Conway's situation, Carew revealed: "Mikey was up with the medical team in Santry Clinic last night, and there is good news for him. We are expecting to have him back (in contact training) within four to six weeks.

"There isn't a growth on the knee. It's still tendonitis and they will do more treatment on that knee. But the tests on the cruciate are fine."

According to the Kildare selector, the favoured treatment with tendonitis is to get the knee back moving as soon as possible. The swelling has gone down "a fair bit and I'd say he'll start light training maybe in the next week. Mikey is in very good form after that (news) because he was a bit down. There is no reason why he cannot stake a claim, at least on the panel, for the Louth/Longford game which is ten weeks from last Sunday."

With Kildare now out of the promotion race in Division Two, Carew revealed that they are likely to start two or three fringe players who haven't got much game time this spring for their final league outing away to Meath.

DUBLIN will be able to pick from a full deck when manager Jim Gavin finalises his team for this Sunday's Leinster U21 football final against Westmeath at Parnell Park (3.0).

Wing-back Nicky Devereux has recovered from an ankle injury suffered in the semi-final win over Carlow; Gary Seaver and Darragh Stapleton have resumed training; while senior panellist Darragh Nelson is back from a four-week suspension picked up in the quarter-final win over Louth.