Henry Shefflin is facing another lengthy stint on the sidelines after confirming that he has sustained a broken bone in his foot.
Shefflin, the nine-time All-Ireland winner, requires serious off-season surgery for the fourth time in the last five seasons and is expected to be out of action until the start of the summer.
The Ballyhale Shamrocks star was forced off in his club’s AIB Leinster Club Championship defeat to Oulart-The Ballagh at the start of the month. Initially, it was thought that he had sprained his ankle, but a subsequent CAT scan revealed a break in his left foot.
The 33-year-old, who battled back from serious shoulder surgery last winter to win a record ninth All-Ireland medal and the Hurler of the Year award, will undergo surgery at the Aut Even hospital in Kilkenny and will be on crutches until the beginning of March.
Shefflin will then face a period of rehabilitation and a battle to recover in time for the Cats’ Leinster Championship opener against Offaly on June 9.
Remarkably, Shefflin has never missed a championship game since making his championship debut in 1999, despite twice having cruciate knee ligament surgery and a career-threatening shoulder problem last year.
Meanwhile, Ballyhale Shamrocks confirmed at the weekend that they have nominated Colin Fennelly to captain Kilkenny for the 2013 season.
As county champions, Ballyhale have the right to put forward their choice to captain the Cats for the coming season. Fennelly’s appointment is set to be ratified by the Kilkenny county board.
Shefflin was nominated as vice-captain.