Danny Kirby in action against Roscommon.PHOTO: SPORTSFILE.

Danny Kirby and Fergal Boland likely to start for Mayo

IT is going to be a much understrength Mayo side that will take on Monaghan in the opening round of the Allianz National Football League in Elverys MacHale Park, Castlebar, on Saturday evening next.

There will be at least four of the Mayo team which started the All-Ireland final replay against Dublin last October missing from the team sheet for next Saturday's game.

In defence All-Star corner back Brendan Harrison is ruled out with injury. It is also expected thaty Footballer of the Year Lee Keegan will miss this game after his club Westport won their All-Ireland intermediate club semi-final last Sunday and are now due to play the final in Croke Park on Sunday, February 19. Last Sunday's victory for Westport also rules out Kevin Keane.

Mayo will be without the two O'Shea brothers, Seamie and Aidan, both injured. However, on the brighter note for Aidan, the ankle injury playing basketball for Sligo is not as bad as first though and that there is every chance of him returning to training before the end of the week.

Furthermore, here is a possibility of him being fit for the game against Kerry on Saturday week.

There is good news regarding Diarmuid O'Connor. The injury he has been carrying for some time is well on the mend and he can't be ruled out of taking part in the Monaghan game.

With so many regular players missing, an opportunity exists for others. It would be a surprise not to see Danny Kirby (midfield) and Fergal Boland (half forward) starting.

Both have been very impressive in Mayo's three FBD League outings. Another player expected to get game time is Breaffy's Liam Irwin.

However, it will be Friday, if not Saturday, before Stephen Rochford and his selectors name their starting 15.