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Doyle's return for Lilywhites still 'a couple of weeks away' admits Ryan

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Former Kildare captain John Doyle

Former Kildare captain John Doyle

Former Kildare captain John Doyle

John Doyle's seasonal return for Kildare may still be another three weeks away, manager Jason Ryan has cautioned.

As Kildare prepare to welcome Tyrone to St Conleth's Park for the third time in under 12 months on Sunday, Doyle continues to work on his own, with an expectation that he may return for the home match against Kerry on Sunday, March 16.

The 36-year-old only recently committed to extending an inter-county career that dates back to 2000.

"John is training separately. He's working very, very hard. It's going to be another couple of weeks before he'll be back in earnest," said Ryan.

"He'll be available at some stage in the three games but not for the Tyrone game."

Kildare face a tough stretch of games, beginning on Sunday with Tyrone, who beat them three times last year (twice in the league and once in a championship qualifier) before meeting Dublin in Croke Park on Saturday week and hosting Kerry eight days later.

EXPERIENCED

Experienced defender Emmet Bolton has been ruled out for Sunday with the knee injury he sustained in the defeat to Cork over two weeks ago.

Ryan continues to be without regulars Peter and Niall Kelly and Eoin Doyle but last year's captain Eamonn Callaghan and Alan Smith are closer to a return. However, the Kildare boss admits that they are not quite ready for competitive returns despite good progress at training.

Brian Flanagan is out for the year with a persistent knee injury, while Morgan O'Flaherty has withdrawn from the squad to allow his injuries to heal, though he may return later in the year.

Ryan sees survival in Division 1A as the biggest prize on offer.

"It's about being competitive all the time, regardless of who we're playing. Tyrone, Kerry and Dublin... we're playing against three teams who have all won All-Irelands since 2008.

"You're looking at the gold standard. If we were to win the Tyrone game, it would mean that we're maybe one game away from survival."

Irish Independent