Harte to take medical advice over McKinless Croke Park involvement

By Michael McMullan

MICKEY Harte will leave it up to the Derry medical team to make a call on the availability of Gareth McKinless for Sunday’s clash with Dublin in Croke Park.

The All-Star defender missed their 1-16 to 1-11 defeat at the hands of the Dubs earlier this month before making his return in Derry’s win over Mayo.

McKinless started again in Sunday’s win over Roscommon before sustaining a broken nose after eight minutes.

The Derry team doctor was able to put his nose back into place after the game but he is a major doubt ahead of Sunday.

Speaking at Monday’s Ulster Championship launch in the new Ulster University campus in Belfast, the Derry boss said he’d leave the decision on the availability of McKinless to others.

“That’s up to the medical people to say that, but he would have preferred he didn’t get the bang he did,” Harte said.

With Conor Doherty getting 57 minutes on his return from a knee injury and Emmett Bradley – while not part of the match squad – taking part in the warmup, Derry’s injuries are beginning to clear up.

Cormac Murphy was back in action again with Lachlan Murray putting a long-standing hamstring problem behind him to kick 1-4.

There was also a return for 2020 All-Ireland minor winning captain Matthew Downey after his injury problems.

Oisin McWilliams faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after the reoccurrence of a leg injury from last season and Martin Bradley’s ankle injury sustained in the days before the Dublin defeat is still keeping him out of contention.

Sigerson Cup winner Ben McCarron won’t be part of the plans after stepping away from the panel in recent weeks.

The four u-20 players – Patrick McGurk, Ruairi Forbes, Ryan McNicholl and Niall O’Donnell – used in the Dr McKenna Cup have been focussing fully on their current Ulster campaign.

Manager Hugh McGrath – a member of Harte’s senior management team – provides the link between both squads.

Derry u-20s take on Tyrone in their next game in the round robin format at Owenbeg on Wednesday night.

The Oakleafers were facile winners over reigning champions Down while Tyrone needed a late charge to force a draw with Down.

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