THERE was mixed news for Cork football boss Conor Counihan yesterday after it was confirmed that Michael Shields has returned from Australia and is available for selection ahead of Saturday night's clash with Dublin at Croke Park, but dual star Eoin Cadogan will line out for the Rebel hurlers this weekend.
All Star defender Shields continued travelling after the team holiday to South Africa in January but returned to Ireland last weekend. Cadogan will continue with the hurlers after captaining them to victory over Offaly last weekend in the absence of regular skipper Shane O'Neill.
Counihan has a considerable list of absentees for the weekend and he could face further problems, with a number of his players in action in tomorrow's Sigerson Cup matches.
Ger Spillane picked up an injury in the win over Kerry and is unlikely to feature, while John Miskella (injured) and Noel O'Leary (suspension) are definitely out along with Nemo Rangers pair Brian O'Regan and Paul Kerrigan. Alan Quirke, Graham Canty, Anthony Lynch and Kieran O'Connor are also unavailable.
Paudie Kissane and Alan O'Connor are "possibilities" according to selector Ger O'Sullivan, but Aidan Walsh is expected to be fit after being forced off in the win in Tralee.
"We're carrying quite a few injuries," said O'Sullivan. "We might be forced to throw a few fellas in at the deep end to see how they get on. It'll be a good test for them and they are looking forward to it because it looks like there'll be a good crowd in Croke Park and a good atmosphere."
Among the new faces that could feature for Cork are Fiachra Lynch, Eoin Cotter and Conor O'Driscoll, who impressed in the early part of the season when the 2010 squad were on their holiday.
"This game might come a little bit early for us as we started a bit later than the other sides. And Dublin look very fit, judging by their win over Armagh. We played Dublin in the league last year and won but they have improved a lot since then and there was nothing between the teams when we met in the summer," said O'Sullivan.