Brian Corcoran, Timmy McCarthy, John Browne and Brian Murphy are injured, while two other All-Ireland-winning heroes of last season, Tom Kenny and Joe Deane, are being rested.
The team shows several changes from the side that defeated Tipperary a fortnight ago and features the O’Connor twins, Ben and Jerry, as well as their Newtownshandrum colleague Pat Mulcahy.
In the absence of John Browne, Erin’s Own club man Cian O’Connor switches to right corner-back, with Mulcahy returning at left corner-back.
John Gardiner is at right half-back, with team captain Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, who was introduced as a substitute against Tipp, starting at left half-back in place of Graham Callinan.
Paul Tierney is recalled at midfield to partner Jerry O’Connor, taking over from Tom Kenny and Kevin Hartnett.
Last season’s successful captain, Ben O’Connor, and Niall McCarthy, both of whom came on as substitutes against Tipperary, start at right half-forward and centre-forward respectively, with Neil Ronan continuing on the left wing.
Kieran Murphy moves from full-forward to the right corner, with Garvan McCarthy taking over as leader of the attack.
Jonathan O’Callaghan replaces Joe Deane in the left corner.
Allstars Henry Shefflin and Michael Kavanagh are both extremely doubtful starters for Kilkenny.
Dynamic centre-forward Shefflin has been out of action for a month with a groin injury, while Kavanagh has missed the last two matches because of torn ankle ligaments.
On the credit side however, team captain Peter Barry and DJ Carey are expected to be selected when Kilkenny name their team tonight. Barry missed the opening session of the league because of his club commitments with recently-crowned All-Ireland champions James Stephens, while Carey was on holidays when the Cats registered their last win against Dublin a fortnight ago.
Wexford hurling manager Seamus Murphy has postponed naming his team for Sunday’s second round game against Galway until tomorrow night in order to access his injury problems.
Leading scorer Paul Carley (back) and goalkeeper Damien Fitzhenry (thumb) both missed the runaway win over Down and are still receiving treatment.
On a more positive note, David ‘Doc’ O’Connor and Colm Kehoe returned from their knee and hamstring injuries to play a full part in a run-out against the county Under-21 team last Sunday.
O’Connor, who is working in Drogheda, will train in Clonkeen College, Blackrock, tonight along with the five Dublin-based players - Willie Doran, Diarmuid Lyng, Malachy Travers, John O’Connor and Matty White.
The sextet will then link up with the full panel at a Wexford venue tomorrow night and the team will be announced after training.
Tipperary, currently on a break in Spain, are expected to announce their team to play Clare this evening.
Because of Under-21 fixtures, Clare won’t name their side until tomorrow night.
However, the Banner include three minor hurlers on their football team to play Cork in the Munster championship in Kilmallock tonight - Gregg Lyons, Cathal Lyons and Sean O’Flynn.
Cork don’t have any dual players, but they include David Scannell at full-forward, from where he scored three goals against Mayo in last Saturday’s All-Ireland vocational semi-final.
: D. Óg Cusack; C. O’Connor, D. O’Sullivan, P. Mulcahy; J. Gardiner, R. Curran, S. Óg Ó hAilpín; P. Tierney, J. O’Connor; B. O’Connor, N. McCarthy, N. Ronan; K. Murphy, G. McCarthy, J. O’Callaghan.
: T. O’Connor (Douglas); J. O’Callaghan (Doneraile), E. Cotter (Douglas), C. O’Brien (Nemo Rangers); S. Kiely (Macroom), A. Fenton (St Vincents), M. O’Brien (Mallow); F. Lynch (Valley Rovers), A. Barry (Douglas); C. O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs), D. O’Sullivan (Canovee), D. Gould (Macroom); D. Molden (Glanmire), D. Scannell (Kiskeam), KJ O’Sullivan (Adrigole).
: D. Murray (Bantry Blues), C. Lowney (Éire Óg), R. O’Dwyer (St Finbarrs), S. Casey (Carrignavar), J. Moran (Carrigaline), C. O’Neill (Ballyclough), M. O’Connor (Cill na Martra), R. Kenny (Nemo Rangers).
: M. O’Donnell (Killenaule); W. O’Dwyer (Carrick Davins), T. Ryan (Ardfinnan), C. Morrissey (Clonmel Óg); K. Harney (Clonmel Commercials), T. Stapleton (Templederry), T. Dunne (Burgess); G. Hannigan (Shannon Rovers), R. Ryan (Éire Óg Annacarthy); D. Lyne (Moyle Rovers), K. McGrath (Loughmore - Castleiney), D. Darcy (Shannon Rovers); T. Dalton (Arravale Rovers), B. Jones (Arravale Rovers), M. Doyle (Killenaule).
: G. Harding (Borrisokane), D. Burns (Clonmel Óg), T. Kenneally (Éire Óg Nenagh), D. Lonergan (Ardfinnan), K. O’Donoghue (Éire Óg Nenagh), S. Hahessy (Carrick Swans), T. Hassett (Moyne Templetuohy), S. Grey (Durlas Óg), D. Boland (Silvermines).
: P. de Loughrey (Cratloe); S. Canavan (Liscannor), G. Lyons (St. Josephs/Doora-Barefield), N. Breen (Wolfe Tones); C. Lyons (Kilrush), J. Hayes (Kilrush), S. Flynn (St Josephs/Doora-Barefield); D. Cusack (St Josephs/Doora-Barefield), D. Ryan (Kilmihill); S. Cullinan (Ennistymon), P. Conole (Kilfinora), D. Tubridy (Doonbeg); C. Donnellan (Clarecastle), S. Monaghan (Wolfe Tones), S. O’Connell (Milltown).
: R. Ó Cuinneagáin (Col. Eoin, Youghal); J. O’Callaghan (Coachford), D. Lynch (St Brogans), J. O’Donovan (St Brogans); G. O’Driscoll (do), R. Cashman (do), D. Foley (Coachford); C. O’Leary (do), P. McCarthy (Dunmanway); C. O’Neill (Mallow), O. Healy (Coachford), P. O’Mahony (St Brogans); P. Finnegan (Coachford), K. Canty (St Brogans), D. O’Callaghan (do).
: P. Coen (Borrisokane); S. Cahill (Killenaule), S. Hahessy (Carrick-on-Suir), J. Doran (Roscrea); S. Fitzgerald (do), R. McLoughney (Borrisokane), L. Mackey (Carrick-on-Suir); P. Austin (Borrisokane), G. Gohery (do); T. Deveraux (Roscrea), K. Reade (Carrick-on-Suir), K. Bulger (Killenaule); J. McLoughney (Nenagh), D. Darcy (Borrisokane), D. McCormack (Killenaule).