HENRY Shefflin is on course to be available for Kilkenny's Leinster championship opener against Wexford on June 11, but believes he needs to impress in training to force his way into Brian Cody's starting side.
Shefflin (pictured right) made his return to the county colours in a challenge match against Waterford just over a week ago, where he landed 0-8, and he has also lined out for Ballyhale Shamrocks, but insists his participation against the Model county is far from a done deal.
"At the end of the week, I'll be in a better place (to see if I'm fit), but I suppose Brian Cody and his selectors will be in a better place too! They're going to decide, if they feel that I'm not up to it that'll basically be it, that'll be the call that will be made. It's going to be a tough week, if I get through that I'll see how next week goes."
Wexford are the last team to beat Kilkenny in Leinster -- when Michael Jacob's goal sent the Cats crashing out of the 2004 semi-final -- and welcome Cody's side to Wexford Park on Saturday week.
Colm Bonnar's men are on the crest of a wave, unbeaten in their last three competitive outings. They found their form just in time to stave off relegation from Division 1 with a draw against All-Ireland champions Tipperary and a stirring come-from-behind win against Cork, and last weekend they put 3-16 on an Antrim team who were expected to go close to just their second win since being introduced to the Leinster championship.
And the Wexford venue is sure to be packed, with Jason Ryan's footballers' provincial quarter-final clash with Westmeath set to be the curtain-raiser.
"It's their home ground. Matches have been moving out of Croke Park the last few years. We played Galway in Tullamore there one year so this will be similar to that, a Saturday evening game in front of a big crowd," said Shefflin.
"It is a serious test and that is what you want. It will find out some of our credentials and tell us what way we are fixed.
"There are no easy matches in the championship in Munster or Leinster this year and everyone wants to go the front-door route. This isn't a game you would have wanted, but you deal with the hand you are dealt and we will just have to get on with it."