Tyrone suffered a blow last night with the news that playmaker Mark Bradley has suffered a setback in his recovery from an ankle injury and will miss Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC qualifier at Netwatch Cullen Park.
Bradley limped off early in the Ulster championship first-round defeat to Monaghan last month, and missed the qualifier win over Meath, but had been expected to return to action this weekend.
Top scorer Lee Brennan will also be absent from the Tyrone attack, not fully recovered from a hamstring injury that he aggravated against Monaghan.
Manager Mickey Harte revealed Bradley has had difficulties in getting back to full training. “He’s has a bit of a setback and he won’t be ready for this weekend. We hope that it will improve after this, but it has been more of a struggle than we thought at first, unfortunately he won’t be ready, Lee won’t either,” he said.
Tyrone will welcome back Peter Harte, who returns after suspension, while corner back Cathal McCarron, who missed the extra-time win over Meath at Pairc Tailteann with a chest infection, is set to return to the defence and add vital experience.
A weakened Tyrone side scraped through in a thrilling clash with the Royals, but Harte was encouraged by the impact made by a number of players who seized their opportunity in a difficult situation, including Harry Loughran, who marked his championship debut with a goal, while Cathal McShane showed a nerve of steel in scoring a stoppage-time point to send the tie to extra-time.
“We have to make sure that we make the new experiences that some of those boys had on that day work to our advantage.
“We need to bring that experience back to our next game, because in the qualifiers, there’s always going to be days like that, when you’re living on the edge, and you have to be able to get through that edge.
“And that is the one good thing out of the Meath game, that we were in a very difficult place and a number of players stood up and were counted.”
The Red Hand boss wants to see his players show a more clinical edge in front of goal at Netwatch Cullen Park against a Carlow side that have been on the up for the past two seasons.
“We’d be disappointed that we didn’t convert as much as we created in the first half of normal time, and we probably could have made the day easier for ourselves.
“It’s a good way to go through. We wouldn’t choose it, we wouldn’t set out to do that, but to come through a close encounter like that always has potential to be beneficial.”
Harte will bring a talented squad to Carlow town for a game his side is fully expected to win, and he feels the close shave experienced in Navan will help his players deal with the pressure of another sudden-death knock-out championship game.
“We have to make sure that we realise that potential and make it a reality, that we feel that this is something that should bring us on.
“We won’t know that until we see how we perform the next day out, but I believe that if we learn from that, and learn from living on the edge and surviving, then that can only be good for this team as they progress for another game at least.”
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