Derry star Paddy Bradley looks set to play some part in Sunday's Power NI Dr McKenna Cup clash with Cavan at Celtic Park.
Bradley missed the Oak Leaf county's entire championship campaign last year after sustaining a torn cruciate knee ligament while on club duty with Glenullin last April.
Paddy's younger brother Eoin picked up a similar knee injury in the run-up to the Ulster final defeat to Donegal, but he is not expected to feature until the latter stages of the league.
“I am not sure how much game time I am going to get in the McKenna, maybe 10-15 minutes each game,” said the elder Bradley, who was an All Star back in 2007.
“I have been given the all-clear by the specialist and the knee has been holding up well in training.
“Hopefully, everything goes well for the McKenna Cup. The rehabilitation has been tough, but I have enjoyed it.
“It was tough not being involved in the Championship last year and having to watch when Derry were playing Kildare at Croke Park.
“Last year started so well with us winning the McKenna and then just missing out on promotion in the league.
“The injury came out of the blue. It is just unfortunate it happened when it did.”
Bradley is included in a 26-man panel that features eight newcomers to inter-county football in Bellaghy's Eugene Scullion and Colin Murray, Kilrea pair Liam Morrow and Paul Morgan, Philly McGlade (Ballinascreen), John McCamley (Watty Graham's), Kevin O'Neill (Lavey) and Ballinderry Shamrocks' star Kevin 'Moss' McGuckin.
Veterans Kevin McCloy, Enda Muldoon and Kevin McGuckin were not named in the panel but Derry boss John Brennan insists the door is not closed on them.
At one stage last year Brennan found himself in the invidious position of being without no fewer than five of his midfielders.
When rookie Michael Friel and the more experienced Joe Diver came together for the Ulster championship, Brennan finally had cause for relief.
Yet now as the 2012 season dawns the Derry boss again finds that his experienced permuta
tions for the engine-room are limited. Friel is out of the equation which means that P J McCloskey, who made an impact in the National League last year and Diver could be thrown into the fray.
Brennan may have limited engine-room options but he is certainly not wringing his hands in frustration.
Instead he is preparing to assess the credentials of John McCamley in particular in the hope that he can perhaps make the breakthrough for the National League next month.
“Obviously I am very well acquainted with the qualities of the players we have injured or unavailable as they have been around for a while so it would seem appropriate that I should look closely at players who want to break into the side,” explains Brennan.