EMBATTLED Limerick senior hurling manager Justin McCarthy is set to run the rule over his experimental panel in a challenge match against Wexford on Saturday, it has emerged.
The game is a repeat of last year's All-Ireland qualifier between the two teams as McCarthy and his opposite number Colm Bonnar step up their preparations for the new season.
McCarthy is currently planning with just six of the 30-man panel that was present for last year's All-Ireland semi-final defeat against Tipperary.
In contrast, Bonnar is strengthened by the return of long-term injury victims Tomas Waters and Colm Farrell, while Eoin Quigley could be set to return from cruciate ligament damage towards the end of February.
Limerick and Wexford are set to do battle on neutral soil at Mallow and there will be much interest in the make-up of McCarthy's team selection.
McCarthy will use the weekend fixture to run the rule over a host of prospective new Limerick seniors as he looks to finalise a panel for the forthcoming Waterford Crystal Cup and National Hurling League campaigns.
The Limerick game is one of two challenge matches lined up by Wexford for the coming weekend, with Kilkenny and Leinster club hurling champions Ballyhale Shamrocks due to visit Horeswood on Sunday.
Saturday's clash with Limerick will bring Bonnar face to face once again with McCarthy, who he worked with as a selector in 2002 and 2003 during McCarthy's Waterford reign.
McCarthy's position in Limerick is expected to come under scrutiny again next Tuesday night when county board delegates convene for a rearranged meeting in Claughaun.