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Donegal hopeful over Lacey's chances of taking on Mayo

Defender Karl Lacey may yet feature for Donegal in this Saturday's All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo 
Gerry Maguire

DONEGAL'S talismanic defender Karl Lacey seems to be winning his battle with injury as Tír Chonaill face a return bout with their 2013 nemesis Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Croke Park this Saturday.

Team boss Rory Gallagher was slightly more upbeat about the four-time Allstar's chances of returning to the fray against Mayo, when speaking at an early morning press conference in Jackson's Hotel, Ballybofey on Monday.

Lacey missed last Saturday's victory over Galway in round 4B of the Qualifiers with a medial knee ligament injury sustained in the first half of their Ulster final defeat to Monaghan on July 19.

It had been feared that next Saturday might come too soon for the Four Masters clubman but Gallagher said that the “news was much better” regarding his top star defender.

“On Karl Lacey, the news this week is more positive. He did a bit of light training yesterday [Sunday]. We are going to monitor him day by day and we know it is going to be a race against time, but we would be more optimistic than we were this day last week."

Donegal's other injury concerns are even less worrying. Gallagher confirmed that defender Eamon McGee should almost certainly start Saturday’s tough test on Ireland’s greatest field of dreams. McGee did not come out for the second half against the Tribesmen last weekend after suffering an ankle injury.

“Eamonn McGee rolled his ankle but fortunately it hasn't swollen up. It is the same ankle as he rolled against Armagh and he was back training again seven to 10 days later. But the fact that it hasn't swollen we would be very confident that he will be back in a few days”.

Elsewhere midfielder Martin McElhinney, who did not train since the Ulster final, could not be risked to start against Galway, according to his manager. McElhinney came on at half-time and brought his usual high energy to Donegal’s engine room.

“Martin has had an accumulation of small things over the last few weeks and the most recent one was a knee injury. But he got through the game , he felt good after it.

“He did not train since the Ulster final and that is why we held in reserve and only bring him on for the second half. And he came through that and is feeling fine and we expect him to do some training today [Monday]”.

Ace marksman Padraig McBrearty came off against Galway with a “dead leg” in the second half but should be fit for Mayo on Saturday. “Patrick suffered a dead leg injury against Galway, but he was out on the bike for a run yesterday and he is fine and is not a concern”.

Fellow forward Darach O’Connor should also be available, Gallagher revealed. The precocious 19 year-old was not named in the Donegal’s squad of 26 for the weekend match but is expected to be back in the frame by the weekend.

“Darach has been very unfortunate. He had been back training and then he got a knock to the knee in training and he was not in the 26 for last Saturday's game. But he is also fine again and is back training and should be OK for the weekend”.

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