WEXFORD manager, Jason Ryan, has delayed naming his team to face Dublin this Sunday with a view to giving Matty Forde every opportunity to prove his fitness.
The 2004 All Star, Forde, hasn't played for Wexford since the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tyrone in 2008, though he rejoined the squad towards the back end of this year's league following a chronic back injury and came through a recent challenge match against Fermanagh unscathed.
Initially, Forde ruled himself out of Sunday's match but both the player and his manager have been satisfied with his recent progress and there is strong speculation coming from the Model County that the Kilanerin man will start in the Wexford full-forward line against a new-look Dublin defence.
Ryan, meanwhile, is adamant that his team can cause the shock of the championship and beat teh Dubs for the first time in champioship action since the Leinster SFC semi-final of 1956.
"The reality is that if our lads believe in themselves, work hard enough and circumstances go in our favour, we can win this match. We are approaching this with real optimism. We certainly don't have a defeatist attitude." The Waterford native was in charge two years ago when 'Pillar' Caffrey's Dubs ran out 23-points winners in that season's Leinster final and though the Dublin team named for Sunday is radically altered, Ryan stressed that he was impressed with the new model for Sunday.
"We can say they are a new team but they have been playing all year together," Ryan said. "The same bunch of guys played against us in the O'Byrne Cup on January 10.
"Their tackle count is absolutely immense at the moment. The amount of turnovers are huge. They are not just good footballers, they have a lot of physical strength in all the lines. They are going to be very hard to break down," he added.
Bar Forde, Ryan has several other injury worries with corner-backs, David Walsh and Niall Murphy joining Kieran Kennedy and Paddy Byrne in sitting out the match, though Kilmacud Crokes man, Adrian Morrissey is available, as is Graeme Molloy, though there are doubts about both Brendan Doyle and Ben Brosnan.
Wexford forward Redmond Barry has also been passed fit after missing three weeks training with a groin strain. "It was a bit of a worry at the time," admitted Barry. "But I've been taking a full part for the last week so I should be fine."