THE Limerick footballers could be without key forward Ian Ryan for the entire Allianz League campaign.
The full forward is to under surgery that will see him ruled out for at least three months.
Limerick’s seven game schedule in Division Four commences on February 5 in Wexford and ends on April 2.
The St Senans man could be on the sidelines for all league games.
The loss of the former vice-captain comes on top of the absence of another experienced campaigner Seanie Buckley, who is battling back to fitness after an operation that saw him miss the end of the 2016 Limerick SFC with Dromcollogher-Broadford.
With another former captain Paudie Browne now abroad, Limerick’s most experienced player will be Johnny McCarthy. Other vital players will be Iain Corbett and Darragh Treacy, who were the only Limerick players to line out with the Munster football side in the recent interprovincial series.
Absent from the outset of 2017 will be Gearoid Hegarty and Stephen Cahill, who have committed 100% to John Kiely’s hurlers at present.
There is however good news for new manager Billy Lee with Ger Collins and Seamus O’Carroll both back in training after opting out in recent seasons.
Limerick are in the process of building a panel and have played challenge games against Laois and The Garda College.
The new season commences for Limerick on Wednesday January 11 when they play Clare in the Gaelic Grounds at 7.30.
It will be a quick turnaround for the second game with a journey to Dungarvan’s Fraher Field on Sunday January 15 at 2.00 to play a Waterford side managed by Tom McGlinchey.
Limerick are listed as third favourites to win the Division Four title. Westmeath (11/10) and Wexford (9/4) are the fancied sides to secure the two promotion slots with the Shannonsiders next in the betting at 9/2.
Although only fully rubber-stamped on November 29 Billy Lee’s new management have trained for the last number of weeks in Mick Neville Park.
Former Cork All Star and All Ireland SFC winner Paudie Kissane is the new football coach, while the new strength and conditioning coach is former Limerick footballer Barry Fitzpatrick of Monaleen.
Brian Begley (Mungret) and Ricky Ronayne (Monaleen) are the new selectors.
In the league, the footballers have four home games – Westmeath, London, Leitrim and Wicklow, and three away games – Wexford, Carlow and Waterford. The home games with Leitrim and Wicklow are in Newcastle West.
There are three games under floodlights – Saturday February 25 away to Carlow, Saturday March 4 home to London and Saturday March 25 away to Waterford in Dungarvan.