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Long road to recovery for Armagh's James Lavery

By John Campbell

Armagh manager Paul Grimley has confirmed that long-serving midfield ace James Lavery is unlikely to play again this year.

The Maghery man sustained a serious neck injury in a training ground collision and is currently embarking on what will be a lengthy rehabilitation process.

Lavery had shown fine form in the earlier stages of the season and it had been hoped that he would bring his experience into play in the Ulster Championship.

But his loss means that Grimley will now rely on a less experienced midfield formation for the Ulster quarter-final against Cavan with Aaron Findon and Stephen Harold likely to get the vote should Ethan Rafferty be ruled out by the ankle injury which has kept him out of action for some six weeks.

"We are sorry to lose a player of the calibre of James Lavery but there is nothing we can do about it," said Grimley.

"His injury could have been even more serious but the fact that he is recovering is very encouraging.

"You cannot legislate for these things happening and while we have been dealt a bad hand in terms of injuries since the start of the year we just have to get on with things."

Caolan Rafferty and Ciaran McKeever are both expected to return for the game against Cavan.

Rafferty was hugely impressive in Armagh's earlier league games, his ability to make driving runs from deep discomfiting opponents.

"Obviously we have some people coming back and that's heartening," adds Grimley.

"The important thing now is that we avoid any further injuries in the build-up to the Cavan game. We like to think we have had our share of them for this year."

With Eugene Keating making good progress from his injury, Cavan expect to be at full-strength for their visit to the Athletic Grounds and Grimley expects a torrid test.

"They won't be in the least worried about coming to us. The Athletic Grounds is not the fortress it once was," added Grimley.

"However, I feel that if the crowd get behind us we can maybe get a good result. The players' commitment is admirable.

"We have had to endure some bad breaks recently but maybe our fortunes will take a turn for the better. We are certainly not dwelling on the negatives, rather we are focusing on the positives."

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