Gavin to unleash Dublin young guns against Kerry
All-Ireland football champions Dublin will be without almost half of the 20 players that played their part in last September's triumph over Mayo when they begin the defence of their league title in Croke Park against Kerry on Saturday night.
Four of their attack will be missing, with Bernard Brogan and Paddy Andrews still rehabilitating after recent groin surgery. Neither player is expected back until March at the earliest. With Paul Flynn suspended and Diarmuid Connolly not being considered due to club commitments with St Vincent's two weeks later in an All-Ireland semi-final against Ballinderry, Dublin's only attacking survivors who started the All-Ireland final will be their youngest, U-21 duo Ciaran Kilkenny and Paul Mannion.
Eoghan O'Gara, Dean Rock and Denis Bastick, three of the cavalry who arrived off the bench to play such an important role against Mayo, are also sidelined as they recover from off-season repairs too. It gives Jim Gavin an opportunity to experiment further, with Cormac Costello among those who might get an opportunity to press their claims on such a big stage.
Footballer of the year, Michael Darragh Macauley, and his midfield partner Cian O'Sullivan did not feature in the O'Byrne Cup, but are available for selection.
At the back, James McCarthy is still recovering from a groin injury and won't be ready until Dublin's second or third league fixture, while Ger Brennan is also club-tied. Tomas Brady remains on the long-term injury list.
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice will also be missing up to half of the team that came so close to beating Dublin in last year's All-Ireland semi-final for Saturday night's renewal of acquaintances.
Colm Cooper is not expected to feature at all in the league, while Fionn Fitzgerald and Johnny Buckley are club-tied with Dr Crokes.
Declan O'Sullivan and Marc O Se have been given more time to make their return, while Darran O'Sullivan is still recovering from double hip surgery.