New blow for Cats as Shefflin undergoes foot op

Henry Shefflin’s chances of playing for Kilkenny in their Leinster championship opener in June have receded further after the hurling icon had another operation on his foot last week.

Ballyhale Shamrocks sources confirmed last night that the nine-time All-Ireland medallist underwent another bout of surgery, adding further woe to his battle to regain full fitness ahead of the summer.

Shefflin went off injured when Ballyhale took on Oulart the Ballagh in the Leinster club championship last December with what was initially thought to be an ankle sprain. Scans revealed a fracture in his foot as well as ligament damage; it is not clear whether the latest operation is on the area of the foot injured last year.

It is the fourth time in five years that the 11-time All Star has faced serious winter surgery. He has overcome two cruciate ligament injuries as well as a serious shoulder injury late in 2011 which affected his preparation for last season.

Shefflin has famously started every Kilkenny championship game that Cats manager Brian Cody has been in place for, but now both men look very doubtful for that provincial opener on June 9, when the All-Ireland champions take on Offaly in Tullamore — what would be their 62nd consecutive game together if both were fit.

Cody is recuperating after pre-planned heart surgery the week before last and is not expected to be on the line when Kilkenny take on Galway play Sunday in the Allianz league semi-final in Thurles.

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