PAUL RYAN should be back for the latter stages of the Allianz Hurling League after the Dublin hurler received relatively positive news about his groin injury.
Ryan is facing a lay-off of between two to four weeks and may well have to sit out Dublin's next Division 1A outing, away to Waterford on Sunday week.
There is still an outside chance that he could be available for the trip to Walsh Park, but the big plus is that the Ballyboden St Enda's man has avoided surgery at a critical point of the inter-county calendar.
Ryan started Dublin's NHL opener away to Galway, but in common with most of his colleagues, struggled badly and was taken off before half-time.
He subsequently sat out the Sky Blues' rousing backlash against All-Ireland champions Clare last Sunday, after which manager Anthony Daly explained: "Ryaner's groin has been at him and Thursday night here, playing a bit of a game, he just had to stop.
"He's in for an MRI to see what the problem is. There's been a problem there going on, so it's time to get it sorted. There's no point still being worried about this in April and May."
Now, there is a distinct chance that the All Star nominee could actually be back by mid to late March.
The scan revealed no major damage, other than small cartilage tears on both groins, and he will now embark on a rehab and physio programme.
In Ryan's absence last weekend, Alan McCrabbe filled the free-taking void with some aplomb – he converted eight placed balls out of 10 as well as nailing an exquisite sideline cut from the left touchline.
McCrabbe had replaced Ryan in Salthill, landing four frees off the bench, but last Sunday was his first competitive Dublin start since 2012, having missed out on last year's historic Leinster-winning campaign.
The Craobh Chiaráin clubman also revealed some wonderful visionary touches against Clare – setting up 1-1 with pinpoint passes for Colm Cronin's goal and, via a crossfield sideline cut, for a Shane Durkin point – all of which should earn him another starting role against the Deise.
Joey Boland will also come into contention for the Waterford game, as he should be fully over his ankle injury by then, whereas Paul Schutte remains sidelined as he recovers from thumb surgery.