Mark McHugh is backing Donegal to emerge from Saturday evening's do-or-die Super 8s showdown with Mayo and take their place on the All-Ireland SFC semi-finals. 

Declan Bonner brings his side to Castlebar knowing a draw will be enough to earn progression from Group 1. Mayo, realistically, need to win [if Meath were to beat Kerry convincingly a draw could do it] but this is essentially a knockout, last-man-standing collision.   

Mayo have had the Indian sign over Donegal in recent years, but McHugh senses a sea change, particularly with ex-Mayo boss Rochford now on the coaching ticket.

"They have the home advantage, but we've a massive advantage with Stephen Rochford being involved with Donegal at the minute," he told RTÉ Sport.

"When it comes to video analysis I don't think we'll have to look at it too much because he will know everything about the players.

"The match-ups are obviously going to be huge throughout the field; who picks up Michael Murphy, who picks up Ryan McHugh, and the same with Cillian O'Connor and Stephen Coen.

"It's going to be nip and tuck I think it's 50-50 going across that white line.

"My heart and my head says Donegal. If we get the injuries we're worried about cleared up, I think Donegal will go down to Mayo confident that we're a better team than Mayo. Other times they've been the better team, but the way Donegal are playing, with the Stephen Rochford factor, I think Donegal will win."

Bonner is without Eoghan Bán Gallagher and there are concerns about the fitness of Patrick McBrearty, Paddy McGrath and Neil McGee.

Paddy Durcan and Keith Higgins meanwhile are expected to come back in for Mayo, and while McHugh believes his county will prevail, he's braced for a mammoth battle. 

"I think people in Donegal are a bit nervous. We're struggling a bit with some injuries that we maybe haven't cleared up from the last game [against Kerry]. People in Mayo seem very confident. 

"They're saying all their players are back fit, and Donegal don't have a great record in Castlebar the last number of years either - not even just in Castlebar, against Mayo. I think we've only beaten them once since the 2012 All-Ireland final. 

"There's a wee bit of a rivalry there over the last number of years. Mayo seem to have come out on top. But it's a game everyone is looking forward to in Donegal. It's where you want to be; it's a winner-takes-all game to get to a semi-final."

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