Cavanagh facing battle to return for league opener
TYRONE star Sean Cavanagh has admitted that he is locked in a race against time to feature in the opening rounds of the league.
After playing more minutes than any other Tyrone footballer in 2013, Cavanagh has yet to feature this year as he recuperates from a groin injury he carried through the latter stages of last season.
The Moy man revealed that he hasn't been on a pitch since rounding off his club duties in late October and is a major doubt for the Red Hand's league opener against Derry on February 1 and the visit of Mayo to Omagh eight days later.
Instead, he has been easing back into running on a state-of-the-art anti-gravity treadmill in Tyrone's Garvaghey training centre.
"I got an injection into my groin to get through the latter part of last season and I played the second International Rules Test and the next day I played with the club, but I haven't been out on the field since," Cavanagh said.
"It wasn't a choice to skip the McKenna Cup, it's just the way it panned out. I've been rehabbing with the physios and they said I was wise to get it right now.
"It'll be tight to make the first few rounds of the league. I'm running on the new treadmill at the minute and it basically goes session by session.
"It is very hard to say exactly when I'll get back. But I'll certainly be trying my hardest for the league."
Cavanagh's absence from the squad, along with that of other established players, has seen Mickey Harte delve deep into his resources.
In all, the Tyrone boss has handed out eight senior debuts in his side's two McKenna Cup outings this year and welcomed back injured goalkeeper Niall Morgan to the fold.
There were three new faces on display in the first-round win over Donegal, and they were joined by another five players making their bow in the easy win over Queen's, in which Tyrone rattled off an unanswered 2-11 in the last half-hour.
And with Stephen O'Neill, Joe McMahon and Conor Gormley -- whose wife is expecting twins -- all not due to return to the squad for another few weeks, Cavanagh believes the absence of some key players will help the squad's development.
"We played a lot of games at this time of year last year so maybe lads didn't get as much time as they would have liked," he said. "But they are getting that chance now and are making a good job of taking it.
"It gives other guys a chance to lead too. The likes of Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte have been in there for a few years now and they can lead the line so it's good for them and good for the guys coming in."