DONEGAL expect captain Michael Murphy to be fit for the beginning of the Ulster Championship next month.
Murphy limped out of last weekend’s League draw with Monaghan and the Glenswilly man will sit out Saturday evening’s trip to Armagh.
Murphy underwent a fitness test before the game. While a hamstring strain forced him off after just five minutes, Bonner has allayed fears of a long-term absence.
“It’s not too serious and Michael will be back for the Down game,” Bonner said.
“He’s following the rehab guidelines under Cathal Ellis (Donegal physiotherapist).
“We hope that he’ll be available sooner rather than later – and he’ll be ready for the Down game.”
Donegal have only four weeks to punch in until they head for Pairc Esler.
Odhrán McFadden-Ferry has returned to train with Donegal after a six-month tour of duty with the Irish Army in the Lebannon, but the Gaoth Dobhair man is not likely to feature in the League.
Bonner expects Brendan McCole, Hugh McFadden and Eoghan Ban Gallagher, who were withdrawn against Monaghan, to be fit for Saturday’s game at the Athletic Grounds.
Forward Jamie Brennan, who sat out the Monaghan game, is said to be ‘not too far away’ from a return.
The returned Odhrán Mc Niallais and the fit-again Stephen McMenamin, used as substitutes against Monaghan, are among those in the frame for longer run-outs this weekend.
Bonner said: “It’s important that we get lads game time. We need them to get to match pace and at the same time to be competitive.
“We always said that we’d be using the League to get players as much game time as possible and we’ll be using more this weekend.”
Donegal came from nine points down to earn a 1-20 to 4-11 draw with Monaghan. Defensive concerns dominated the post-match talk about Donegal’s performance.
Bonner said: “We are attacking well, but we have to be better defensively. That’s the challenge for us. We aren’t as bad as we showed at stages last Saturday.
“There’s always work to do, whether it be on attack or defence. We know that we need to get better. We have put up some big scores, which we’re happy with, but we need to find the balance now.”
While 500 spectators will be in the Athletic Grounds, as fans begin to return to sporting venues in Northern Ireland, Bonner has slammed as ‘lunacy’ Donegal’s receipt of only 50 passes.
He said: “Someone really has to wise up with this. It’s out of our control, but it makes no sense the way they’re handling the distribution. There wis no limits on travel anymore and it’s really unfair after being out of matches for so long.”Tags: