LONGFORD, the 'nearly men' of the qualifiers who had Kerry on the rack last summer, are struggling for numbers as they prepare for the O'Byrne Shield match against Wexford in Enniscorthy tomorrow.
Manager Glenn Ryan had only 18 players available for last Sunday's O'Byrne Cup tie against Meath -- and that panel was padded out by U-21 players who had featured in a Hastings Cup match the previous day.
Early in the week, Wexford GAA journalists heard talk of the possibility that Longford would not travel to Enniscorthy this weekend, but Longford chairman Peter O'Reilly dispelled that notion.
"The problem we had last week-end was that we had only 18 in the panel," he explained.
"We had four or five players injured, and another nine or 10 involved in the Sigerson Cup.
"One player -- Shane Cox -- got injured in the warm-up and a couple of fellas had niggly injuries.
"Another lad -- Arthur O'Connor -- got married and had been on his honeymoon.
"This Sigerson Cup is having an effect on us. We had a couple of subs who played in the Hastings Cup against Roscommon on Sunday.
"But we will have a team for Sunday. We're fairly confident that Shane Cox and Arthur O'Connor will be available, but we will again be depending on a number of the U-21s."
Manager Ryan wasn't in a talkative mood.
"I would prefer not to be saying anything at the moment, because I'd only be whinging.
"I have a lot of lads playing with colleges at the moment, and I don't want to be crying about it," he said.
Despite their problems, Longford managed to score 13 points against Meath who notched up 2-14.
Either way, Wexford, losers against Dublin last week, can't afford to take their visitors lightly.