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Diver woe tests Derry strength in depth

Derry have been struck a major blow ahead of their trip to Kildare on Sunday for their Allianz Football League Division 2 tie, with the news that Joe Diver will be out of action for six weeks with torn knee cartilage.

The powerful midfielder suffered the injury when playing for UUJ against Donegal in the Dr McKenna Cup and though the initial prognosis wasn't bad, a subsequent scan revealed the extent of the damage and the need for him to have an operation.

Diver's absence leaves Oak Leaf boss John Brennan with a major headache as he is short of options at midfield already due to Patsy Bradley's back operation and Fergal Doherty's absence from the squad as he considers his future.

While James Conway is an experienced performer at this level, PJ McCloskey and Niall McKenna are newcomers to the scene and at least one of those is likely to get the nod for the weekend.

Another interesting feature of the game is the possible inclusion of former Kildare defender Declan Brennan against his native county.

The former Rathangan player withdrew from the Lilywhite panel at the beginning of last season to concentrate on his studies, but has decided to make himself available to Derry as he attends the University of Ulster in Coleraine.

A star of Kildare's run to the All-Ireland U-21 final in 2008, Brennan transferred to Ballinascreen and has returned to full training with Derry this week after a brief absence through injury.

Meanwhile, for Kildare, Gary White has also returned to training. The versatile Sarsfields clubman missed out on the successful O'Byrne Cup campaign after having a request for a break granted by management, but resumed this week to offer more defensive and midfield options.

White was also captain as his club played Newbridge rivals Moorefield in the county senior football final last October, but had to be taken to hospital at half-time after suffering a health scare.

He has since received the all-clear, though, and is now ready to resume inter-county duty.

Irish Independent