Henry Shefflin has suggested he may yet play a part in Kilkenny’s Leinster Senior Hurling Championship opener against Offaly on 7 June.
Shefflin is recovering from a recurrence of a stress fracture in his foot, which he suffered in the Allianz Hurling League victory over Tipperary, and later exacerbated in training.
The injury is remarkably similar to the one Shefflin suffered last year, an injury that ruled the nine-time All-Ireland-winner from his first championship game since he made his debut in 1999.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport about his latest injury, Shefflin said: “It’s very similar to last year.”
He will wear a protective boot for a few weeks, before going back to his surgeon to determine how his recovery has progressed.
However, asked whether he might still be in line to play some part in the game against Offaly in Nowlan Park, Shefflin said: “It’s touch and go, to be honest, there’s no point saying otherwise. But I’m not ruling myself out.”
Shefflin conceded that he had rushed back too soon from last year’s fracture.
"It caused a weakness in the foot, there’s no doubt about it," the Ballyhale Shamrocks stalwart admitted.
"But I think that weakness was there from the original injury.”
Speaking at an event to mark a series of community hurling events being organised by All-Ireland SHC sponsor Centra, Shefflin denied that 2014 would be about eradicating the ghosts of a disappointing 2013 for Kilkenny, saying: “There’s nothing I can do about last year.”
The championship is going to be wide open this year, he said, insisting that Kilkenny’s focus was on their game against Offaly rather than planning for later in the summer.
Shefflin did point out, though, that Kilkenny had lost to two of the teams who had reached the semi-final stages of the championship last season, Dublin and Clare, in this year’s league campaign.
“So we have to get up there, try to get there,” he said.
Shefflin, who is 35, has been plagued by injuries in recent seasons, including the stress fracture in his foot and cruciate ligament damage that cut short his involvement in the 2011 All-Ireland final.
He denied that he had altered his training habits to take account the toll years of action had taken on his body.
“As sports people, we don’t want to do that,” he said. “Of course, we probably should do it, and the science would be there that you should do it. But when you get out there, you want to train [as normal].
“Of course, you do have to see, if you’re a bit sore... I have to be a bit cuter about the way I train.”
Speaking about the possibility of retiring, Shefflin said, “I do review it after every year, but there’s no doubt about it, there’s not very many of them left. It was even different to last year.
“When you get to this stage of your career, it could be the last one, and there’s not too many of them left.”