The return of Dublin’s record-breaking skipper was confirmed by Ciarán Kilkenny, with their Leinster SFC opener away to either Wicklow or Wexford now just ten days away.
Cluxton’s future has been shrouded in mystery for several weeks, although Dublin selector Mick Galvin had allayed some of those doubts – after their final league outing against Donegal – when saying they expected to have him back “as soon as we step back into championship training”.
“Yeah, he is,” said Kilkenny, when asked if their 39-year-old ’keeper was now back. “Look, there’s a lot of guys that are on the return-to-play list as well and that’s the exciting piece, that these guys are coming back in and a lot of other guys are really competitive at the moment and have put their hands up for places.
“So, it’s great to have that strength in depth and that’s going to be highly important,” he continued. “We’re firmly focused on next week’s game but if you’re fortunate to get past that, it’s going to be really important that every team has a strong panel. And having been away from playing games for so long, for four/five months, it puts everyone at risk to injury so you just have to be mindful of your recovery and keeping your body as fit and healthy as possible.”
Speaking at a media launch where Ballygowan and Energise Sport were again confirmed as official hydration partners of Dublin GAA, Kilkenny had further good news about Dean Rock, who missed all NFL games.
“Dean’s in great shape,” he said. “We’re looking forward to getting him back in. I think he’s close to getting back now.”
Kilkenny was also adamant that veterans such as Cian O’Sullivan and Kevin McManamon, who’ve yet to see any game-time in 2021, still have a vital role to play.
“Of course they do – fantastic footballers and the experience that they bring,” the four-time All-Star stressed. “They are having a massive influence on the group. All those guys that you’ve mentioned, they’re all gearing up to be ready and to put their hands up for places and that’s the encouraging thing ... that we’ve a lot of guys that performed really well throughout the league, but there’s also other lads that are in the background that are really going through the gears and are ready to get back out onto the field as well. We’re in a good position.”
Kilkenny was also “really excited” that manager Dessie Farrell can officially rejoin the group next week after his 12-week suspension, in the countdown to their SFC opener.