DONEGAL'S star wing-back Ryan McHugh could be out for a number of weeks, as Tír Chonaill prepare for a crunch clash with Tyrone in Omagh this weekend.
The two-time Allstar did not tog out against Kerry last week.
Team manager Paddy Carr did not elaborate on the nature of McHugh’s injury, but said he should be back “in a matter of weeks”.
His experience is a big loss as Donegal prepare for what will be a real battle in Omagh.
“Ryan will be out for a while and a few of the lads got a few knocks as last Sunday was an intense affair, but that has not ruled anyone out for Omagh,” Carr said.
“Ryan is a major player for us and we all know what he brings to the team, and he is something else when in full flight.
“We would like to think that he won’t be out for too long, but he is just following the medical advice”.
When asked if McHugh would be back before the end of the League, Carr said it would be weeks rather than months.
“None of the more recognised players will be available for this weekend,” he added.
“They are all making steady progress and it would be nice to fast forward them, but it would not be the wise thing to do.
And Michael Langan, Ciarán Thompson, Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Oisín Gallen and Niall O’Donnell are still a few weeks short of a return to action.
Meanwhile, Peadar Mogan, who is a university student in Liverpool, is still on the panel but is not expected back for a few weeks either.
“Peadar is part of the panel and is working away on his fitness and we are making arrangements to have him more available,” Carr said.
“He will not be available to play on Sunday, he is not injured but we hope to have him around the place this weekend and he is working on his fitness.”
And with Shane O’Donnell and Ethan O’Donnell gone for the foreseeable future and Hugh McFadden being taken off and looking like he needs a few more weeks to be back to full fitness, Carr will be looking again to the young men who stood up so well to the Kerry challenge last Sunday.
Carr paid tribute to his charges for their exciting narrow win over an experimental Kerry team.
“The team reflected what was happening on the training field and I knew that, if they brought that into Ballybofey, that they would be up for the battle,” he said.
But even though Donegal trailed by 1-6 to 0-3 in the first half, Carr kept the faith.
“At half-time, it was pretty much evident to us that the bulk of Kerry’s scores came from our mistakes,” he said.
“We knew if we fixed a few things, and we did hit three great points just before the break and we knew going in that we were very much in the game.
“It was great to see the spirit, character, fight and the heart in the team in the second half.
“This was our first real battle and the lads showed character in abundance.
‘Joy’ is a word you don’t often hear from county managers these days, but it is one of Carr’s mantras and it seems to be resonating with his charges.
“While inter-county is a very serious business, if you take the joy and the enjoyment out of it, people are very results focused, but if you keep that joy in it you are kind of liberating people to be the best version of themselves,” he said.
“That is very much what we want to do because fear can often fill the gap and fear tends to be what you try to control, and it makes you afraid to make mistakes.
“I always believe that the biggest mistake you will make is when you are afraid to make a mistake.
“So you just get up and kick on from there”.
But Carr and his backroom team have “identified a few things that we can do a whole lot better, and everything is a learning curve because sometimes you only learn things in defeat.
“There were a lot of things we were doing well, and we want to highlight those so the lads will know that we want more of what’s good.”
All of those qualities will be well tested in Omagh.
“Tyrone are always dangerous and you have to admire what they achieved in winning the All-Ireland in 2021,” Carr said.
“They will be looking for a bit of a momentum after last weekend against Roscommon.
“We have to go out and try and take up where we left off the last day.
“The entire Tyrone team are a major threat with a tigerish defence and some very good individuals up front as well.
“We know that they will certainly bring out the best in us and that is all that we can focus on.”