JOE CANNING COULD yet play a part in this year’s Leinster Hurling Championship as he prepares to step up rehab work following groin surgery.

The Galway ace went under the knife earlier this month on the injury he sustained in the league semi-final defeat to Waterford and was given “a 14-to-16 week” recovery period.

Micheal Donoghue’s team are chasing their third provincial title in succession this summer and open the campaign against Carlow on 12 May.

And while Canning is certain to miss that clash, his brother, Ollie, hasn’t ruled him out of a return ahead of the All-Ireland series with the Leinster final fixed for 30 June – exactly 14 weeks since the Waterford game.

“What the experts have said is ‘14-to-16 weeks’ from when he had the surgery, so you’re talking about the back-end of the Leinster Championship at the earliest,” he told The42 at today’s Sky Sports championship coverage launch at Croke Park.

Canning lays stricken on the Nowlan Park turf after getting injured against Waterford.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“Since the surgery, he is in recovery mode now. The first couple of weeks were very, very slow. There was practically no rehab; he was on crutches for the first week or two.

“Once that settles down I’m sure he’ll start his rehab and only then will the medical team and himself be able to judge where he’s at. But, for now, it’s very hard to say, he hasn’t done anything on it since.”

The five-time All-Star’s last serious injury was a torn hamstring, picked up during the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final loss to Tipperary.

He came back from that to lead the Tribesmen to a first Liam MacCarthy Cup in 29 years in 2017 before falling short in the decider last September.

And while Canning — a hurling pundit with Sky — says his young sibling’s spring misfortune took some time to digest, he’s confident the 30-year-old will recuperate to a level where he can once again spearhead the Galway attack.

The last serious injury he had, I suppose, was three years ago when he did his hamstring against Tipperary.

“Of course he’s had sprains and strains in the meantime that you don’t hear about, he just manages that, but it’s three years since he’s had a really serious injury where he’s been out for a number of months.

“Hopefully the work he’s put in over the last two years help in his recovery. You’d like to think the conditioning work he’s done with the backroom team over the last two seasons will stand to him.

Conor Cooney is also struggling with injury.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“After the initial disappointment and frustration, you have to start turning your energy to recovery and doing everything you can to get back in as short a time as possible.

“Galway have had a couple of injuries: Conor Cooney got injured in a club game – he did some ankle ligament damage, I believe – so him and Joe are two big knocks for Galway.

“But the good news is that Joseph Cooney has returned from his trip abroad so he’ll be definitely an advantage for Micheal Donoghue.”

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella are joined by Andy Dunne to get stuck into last weekend’s Champions Cup semi-finals.:

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