KILKENNY look likely to be without midfield general Michael Fennelly for this weekend's opening defence of their Leinster title against Wexford, WRITES Cliona Foley.
The Ballyhale star still hasn't played any hurling since breaking a bone in his hand in the last round of the Allianz League in mid-April.
Manager Brian Cody likes his players to prove their match fitness well in advance of championship games, but Fennelly missed out on the last round of local club games and wasn't able to do any hurling in county training last week, which indicates that he's in a serious race against time to make it.
But there was better news on the injury front as Tommy Walsh, who did not do any ball-striking in county training last week because of a recurring shoulder injury, was back in full training last weekend.
JJ Delaney, Eoin Larkin and James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick, who all missed a recent challenge match against Waterford, have all returned to club action since, indicating that they are ready for the championship opener.
Henry Shefflin is also expected to start in what will be his first competitive game since limping out of last year's All-Ireland final.
Wexford were holding their breath that senior starters Matt O'Hanlon and Harry Kehoe came through last night's U-21 clash with Kilkenny because they already have injury worries over key defenders Darren Stamp and Paul Roche.
Stamp pulled a calf muscle a week ago while Roche, who missed the Antrim game, hasn't hurled for three weeks. Both men face late fitness tests on Saturday morning.