Deise's stars to miss first half of league
Davy Fitzgerald is preparing to rest up to six of his most established players for at least half of the forthcoming National Hurling League programme.
In a bid to allow them to repair their bodies, Fitzgerald will not be calling on a hard core of players who have spearheaded the county's ascendancy through the last decade.
Tony Browne, Dan Shanahan, Ken McGrath, Eoin Murphy, Seamus Prendergast and John Mullane will not be asked to return to training until at least the middle of March.
That will preclude them from the games against Dublin, Galway, Limerick and probably Cork which will be played on the weekend on Sunday, March 21.
Fitzgerald is confident that Browne and Shanahan, Waterford's two former hurlers of the year, will not succumb to retirement as has been speculated.
"They are all on individual programmes at the moment under the guidance of Ger Hartmann, including the two lads (Browne and Shanahan)," explained Fitzgerald.
"It's a gamble we're probably taking leaving them out for so long. But we need to manage them as well as we can, get the best out of them at the right time of the season," announced Fitzgerald.
"Tony Browne has done it for the last few years and it has served him very well. If everyone came back the way Tony does, well we wouldn't have any problems."
McGrath has been plagued with injuries and missed most of last year with a knee problem. Stephen Molumphy could also miss the opening couple of games as he is not due back until mid-February as he continues his latest tour of duty with the armed forces.
"We'll be without seven key players and I accept that's a lot but it won't diminish our effort in the league whatsoever. We'll be working hard for as many good results as we can get."
The former Clare goalkeeper, who is preparing for his second full season in charge, has introduced new faces to his squad with emphasis on last year's minor and U-21 squads.
Fitzgerald will decide on the captaincy of the Waterford squad in the coming weeks.
Last year, in the wake of the All-Ireland final defeat to Kilkenny, he opted for joint captaincy, appointing Ken McGrath and Stephen Molumphy for joint responsibilities.
"I have an idea in my head about what could work and we'll discuss it," he said.