Former Dublin midfielder Ciaran Whelan says rumours of a return to inter-county action for Diarmuid Connolly are wide of the mark, and warned the mercurial forward would face a real battle to get back into the side if he does make a comeback.

Connolly hasn't played for the Dubs in a year and spent last summer in Boston. There had been reports that he was preparing to re-enter the Sky Blues fold but RTÉ analyst Whelan said there's "not much substance" in such talk.

"Diarmuid is back playing with his club," he said. "I don't think there's much substance linking him to the Dublin squad at this point. If he has his appetite back, and he wants to get back playing after having a break last year, that's all the better for Dublin but I think there's a bit of a road to travel in that one.

"He played on Saturday morning for St Vincent's against Ballyboden. If Diarmuid has his appetite back - and people need to respect that he wanted a break from the game - but if he's in that position where he wants to come back and fight for a spot, which is what he'll have to do because this is a strong Dublin team with a very strong forward line, then fantastic.

"He's 32 years of age but he's kept himself in good shape. It would be great if the door was open for him and he had the appetite to come back, but as I said, I don't think there's been any connection with the Dublin squad to date."

The other rumour swirling in recent days was of Jason Sherlock's apparent exit from Jim Gavin's back-room team. That one seemed to be put to bed when Sherlock got off the Dubs' coach and took his place in the dugout for the Allianz Football League clash with Kerry in Austin Stack Park on Saturday evening.

Whelan added: "Jason took a break at the start of the year - other selectors have done that previously and not come back until February.

"He wasn't around the last few weeks and two plus two equalled five essentially. People assumed he was gone. He's not."