KILDARE expect to have Mickey Conway back training within the next fortnight as he takes the first tentative steps to recovery following an injury absence of over 18 months.
The Nurney playmaker has been out of action since the 2009 Leinster SFC clash with Wicklow when a torn cruciate ligament wrecked his season and his attempts at a comeback last year were hijacked when Conway was struck down with tendonitis in the knee.
However, following a further operation in Sweden prior to Christmas, the prognosis of a return to action is now much more positive with Lilywhite manager, Kieran McGeeney proclaiming the second op a success, adding that he expects Conway to be back in training within the next two weeks.
"I am hoping to get him on the pitch if not next week then the week after," revealed the Armagh man after yesterday's eight point O'Byrne Cup victory over Longford in Newbridge.
"He still has a long way to go but there has definitely been a big improvement. But after two years out of football it is a long way back for Mikey."
Conway was a key figure for McGeeney and Kildare prior to the blow, adopting a new berth at wing-back but inheriting a playmaking role from defence.
His return was flagged on a number of occasions last summer but the subsequent complications with the knee cast serious doubt over his inter-county future.
However, it looks as though the worst of the injury is now behind Conway and Kildare are eyeing a return to competitive action during their forthcoming Allianz Nation Football League Division 2 campaign.
Talisman Dermot Earley meanwhile, is still in the early throes of his rehabilitation from his own cruciate ligament surgery which he underwent last November. The veteran midfielder played most of the summer without the ligament but went under the knife following the end of the championship and while McGeeney revealed he was "ahead of schedule" with his recovery, Earley is not expected to return to playing until the start of this year's championship at the very earliest.
"Dermot is probably a wee bit ahead of schedule," explained McGeeney. "He has a long road. He had three operations in the one go and he has tough hills to climb but if anyone can do it he is the boy."