'They're all thinking 'how did Robbie Henshaw get back?'' - Miracle recovery by Lee Keegan is discounted by Stephen Rochford
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford has ruled out a return for Lee Keegan ahead of schedule for next week's much-anticipated Connacht quarter-final with Galway.
The Connacht Council has indicated that it will be a full house (28,000) in MacHale Park on Sunday week but speculation that Keegan may have recovered from a dislocated shoulder that required surgery is wide of the mark, Rochford confirmed.
"It's only seven weeks this weekend (since he picked up the injury against Tyrone), which is six weeks post-op," he said.
"He's back doing some running but hasn't been in any contact. I don't see him partaking in the game. I know locally, they're all thinking 'how did Robbie Henshaw get back?' In a professional environment, maybe more can be done. He isn't in our plans."
Henshaw did similar damage to the shoulder in early February but was back for Leinster's Champions Cup semi-final against Scarlets aftrer a 10-week recovery. Rochford said at the outset that Keegan would take up to four months to recover fully.
Cillian O'Connor, Brendan Harrison, Donal Vaughan and Chris Barrett are back in the frame after recent injuries. Rochford has admitted negotiating April, with restrictions on training camps, has been difficult but pointed out that Mayo players were with their clubs for two rounds of league football and one round of club championship during that time.
"It's been a challenge. It's not a level playing field.
"We're playing in 12 days' time, some teams (Kerry) aren't playing until the first week in June.
"Last weekend was the first weekend that our guys have not played games since the first weekend of the FBD.
"Some guys haven't played because of injury but between club, college, inter-county they have been going and going.
"There has been five rounds of club league played in Mayo already, our lads have played in three rounds of it.
"So for a team that's out the earliest in the championship bar the four Connacht counties this weekend, we've operated in really good faith in it."
Rochford, an All-Ireland-winning club manager with Corofin in 2015, feels there is merit in dividing club and county seasons completely but sees increased demands on county players now.
"I understood the requirements of the club wanting their players and the county manager wanting their players. At the end of the day, who is thinking enough about the players?" he asked.