KILKENNY have been dealt a fresh injury blow with the All-Ireland champions set to be without Brian Hogan for next Sunday's All-Ireland SHC quarter-final against Limerick.
The anticipated return of JJ Delaney and Michael Fennelly has been counteracted by news that Hogan's dead leg has been slow to respond to intensive treatment. The All Star centre-back, 31, suffered the injury during a recent club game for O'Loughlin Gaels.
He spent a number of days on crutches and was unable to train either last week or over the weekend, with Brian Cody's management team seemingly resigned to the fact that he won't be starting in Thurles next Sunday.
Presuming Hogan doesn't make it, Cody and his selectors face an intriguing choice as to who will fill the central breach.
There is speculation that Kieran Joyce could be promoted in a reshuffled rearguard, while Delaney will also be fit to resume defensive duties (possibly at full-back) after recovering from a broken finger.
Fennelly, the reigning Hurler of the Year, is also making good progress after being sidelined with a broken bone in his foot since the National League Division 1 final cakewalk against Cork.
Another recently stricken All Star, Michael Rice, is poised for a recall somewhere in the engine room after his impressive performance off the bench during the Cats' shock Leinster final defeat to Galway.