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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

Dundalk captain Stephen O'Donnell plays down fresh injury concerns

The league-winning skipper will have another knee operation on Tuesday.

Dundalk will begin their title defence without their skipper.
Dundalk will begin their title defence without their skipper.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

STEPHEN O’DONNELL HAS admitted his frustration at his latest injury setback, but the Dundalk midfielder is confident that it won’t be another long-term issue.

O’Donnell sustained career-threatening knee damage last April when he tore his anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, and it was thought that his 2014 season — at the very least — was at an end.

However, the Lilywhites’ skipper returned on the final day of the campaign to score the first goal in a 2-0 win over Cork City, which gave his side their first Premier Division title in 19 years.

But O’Donnell will be on the sidelines again for the start of the new SSE Airtricity League season, which officially begins for the champions next Friday when they welcome Longford Town to Oriel Park.

During Dundalk’s pre-season preparations, the 29-year-old tore cartilage in the same knee that troubled him last year, and he’s scheduled to be operated on this Tuesday by leading surgeon Ray Moran.

“I’ll be out for four-to-six weeks. It’s frustrating, but I’ll only miss the first four or five games of the season. If that’s all I miss this season then I’ll take that,” O’Donnell told The42 at today’s 2015 SSE Airtricity League launch at the Aviva Stadium.

“I’d say it’s a knock-on from my injury last season. I had no problems for about a month in pre-season, but then it swelled up and got a little bit sore. Hopefully it’s just a simple job. Usually it is and you’ll be out for only a month.

“Ray Moran is probably the top surgeon in the country, he had a look at the scan and said it’s nowhere near as serious as last season.”

According to manager Stephen Kenny, O’Donnell is Dundalk’s only absentee for tomorrow’s President’s Cup game against St Patrick’s Athletic at Oriel Park (3pm).

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Paul Dollery

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