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O'Neill set for Tyrone return

FORMER Footballer of the Year, Stephen O'Neill, is in line to make a significant impact on this Saturday's All-Ireland SFC quarter-final clash with Dublin at Croke Park (7pm).

O'Neill was introduced only in injury time during Tyrone's 11-point dismantling of Roscommon last Saturday night as he continues to battle a recurring hamstring problem, but manager Mickey Harte said that he expected the extra week to aid recovery and, as a result, O'Neill could have a greater involvement next weekend.

"It is getting better all the time," Harte said. "He has another week to get better. He has been touch and go there today."

However, Harte also admitted it could be a risk to play the 2005 Footballer of the Year if the hamstring is not completely healed.

"That's the gamble," he admitted. "He came back a bit early the last time and set him back, and that's the risk factor with the hamstring: when you think it's almost right and go ahead of time, you can set it back.

"Medical personnel are cautious at this stage because it has happened (to) him a few times this season. Hopefully with another week, and he manages it well, he could be available for game time."

Enda McGinley is another struggling for full fitness and Harte admitted that the Errigal Ciarán midfielder was playing catch-up after missing a large chunk of the season through injury.

"It's not that easy at this stage catching up because there are a lot of other people who have been there all year and they need their share of the action," said Harte, who didn't rule out the possibility of Aidan Cassidy making an appearance next weekend.

Cassidy has suffered chronically from a spate of injuries since bursting onto the scene a couple of years ago and is now struggling to overcome a hamstring problem.

"It's a touch-and-go issue," Harte said. "He was out there warming up, but when he'd done even that he was a bit worried about it. Another week, how much difference is that going to make? I'm not quite sure."


Saturday will be Harte's fifth championship clash with Dublin since taking over Tyrone in 2003 and the three-time All-Ireland-winning manager thinks this year's vintage are a more complete version of the side which put his team out at the quarter-final stage last year.

Asked if Dublin had changed much over the past 12 months, Harte responded: "Change mightn't be the right word but matured might be. They were new to the system they are playing last year. Now they have another year's work on it and build the belief in themselves. I'd say they are a more formidable side now than last year and will ask a lot of questions of us."

However, he also banished all notions of next Saturday being a revenge mission for the Red Hands.

"Revenge is not a great thing to be about," he said.

"It's about doing the best that you can. If we can play to the best of our potential then we're in with a great chance and if we don't we are going to be licking our wounds again."