The midfielder, and captain, broke a metatarsal in his right foot on Saturday — a recurrence of the injury which ruled him out of all bar one of the county’s NFL games.
“It’s hugely frustrating,” said Earley: . I’m back on crutches. I was just running when it broke. I don’t know when I’ll be back at this stage, I’ll just have to take it week by week.
“Every time I set a date to come back something seems to happen.”
“It had felt very sore in training but the x-rays had showed that the bone had healed. Injuries are part and parcel of sport but I just don’t know why it keeps happening, maybe I’m going in too hard or not going in hard enough.”
Kildare manager John Crofton flew his panel to Sunderland on Thursday for a three-day training camp but this latest injury scare leaves him with a major problem ahead of the Meath clash.
They are now without both first choice midfielders — Killian Brennan is out for the rest of the season having ruptured his Achilles tendon in the National League semi-final against Donegal — while Tomas O’Connor, a potential replacement, injured his cruciate knee ligament last week while in action for his club, Clane.
Earley was impressed with the facilities at Sunderland. “We had a good hard session on the Thursday and we did a lot of skills work on the Friday. The training facilities are top notch over there, we got about two weeks work done in the space of three days because you’re training like a full-time athlete.”
The weekend away at Sunderland was organised with the help of Sunderland’s Kildare-based chairman Niall Quinn. The panel enjoyed breakfast in the K Club on Thursday before flying to the north of England, where they took in the home team’s 3-2 victory over Burnley on Friday.
Kildare will play Mayo in a senior football challenge on Sunday to mark the opening of the St Laurence’s GAA complex.
Meanwhile, Tipperary have included four of last year’s All-Ireland winning team for tomorrow night’s opening game in the Munster MHC against Clare at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. (Throw-in, 6.30). Padraig Maher, Michael Cahill, Brendan Maher and Seamus Hennessy all figured on the team which defeated Galway in the 2006 All-Ireland final.
The Cork team to play Waterford in Pairc Uí Chaoimh (6.30) includes four members of the minor football squad through to the Munster semi-final against Tipperary — Lorcan McLoughlin, Chris O’Donovan and Denis O’Sullivan, who will start, and Ciaran Sheehan, who is included among the substitutes.
Donagh Stack, who will line out at full-forward, played in this year’s Harty Cup final with St. Flannan’s against DLS Waterford who won the title for the first time and later went on to take All-Ireland honours. Several members of that team will figure with Waterford for tomorrow’s night’s game.
J. Logue (Ballingarry); S. O’Brien (Newport), P. Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), J. Coghlan (Moyne-Templetuohy); M. Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields), B. Maher (Borris-Ileigh), D. O’Connor (Roscrea); N. McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), J. Gallagher (Kildangan); S. Hennessy (Kilruane MacDonaghs), K. Lorrigan (Moyle Rovers), M. Heffernan (Nenagh Eire Og); J. O’Neill (Clonoulty-Rossmore), P. Maher (Lorrha-Dorrha), D. O’Brien (Cashel King Cormacs).
D. McCarthy (Sliabh Rua); K. Murphy (Erins Own), J. Herlihy (Newtownshandrum), E. McCarthy (Na Piarsaigh); L. McLoughlin (Kanturk), C. O’Donovan (Valley Rovers), S. McDonnell (Glen Rovers); D. O’Sullivan (Ballinascarthy), M. Sexton (Kilbrittain); P. Gould (Na Piarsaigh), M. Bowles (Newcestown), R. White (Carrigtwohill); L. O’Farrell (Midleton), D. Stack (Buttevant), R. Clifford (Newtownshandrum).
Substitutes. C. Hickey (Glen Rovers), A. Kearney (Midleton), C. Hurley (Carrigaline), C. Leahy (Sarsfields), G. O’Connor (St. Finbarr’s), C. Sheehan (Eire Og), M. O’Mahony (Sliabh Rua), R. O’Driscoll (Sarsfields) and S. O’Brien (Carrigaline).