An in-form Wexford hurling side travels to Nowlan Park this Sunday to face Brian Cody’s Kilkenny in the final round of the Allianz League.
However, with Wexford sitting on the top-of-the-table, it was expected that Fitzgerald would name an almost second-string side to face Kilkenny.
With an eye on the Leinster Championship match versus the Cats down the line and with a place already cemented in a League quarter-final, the upcoming game against Kilkenny has provided an excellent opportunity to rest key players – and to simultaneously provide opportunities to those on the fringes of the panel.
“There will definitely be a few changes for Sunday. Lee Chin definitely won’t be playing, nor Aidan Nolan, Jack Guiney. And in fairness I think our sub goalie [Conor O’Leary] deserves a game, because if anything happened Mark Fanning, you have to be sure the two are able to play under pressure,” Fitzgerald told The Irish Times.
“It’s an opportunity for other panel members. To be honest, we’ve kept it pretty consistent the first four rounds, probably only started 18 or 19 different guys, which I’m happy enough with.
“That’s the way it’s going to be in the championship, you won’t be making crazy changes over the four games.”
Chin suffered a pelvic injury against Clare, an injury that forced Fitzgerald into replacing the Faythe Harriers club-man at half-time. Likewise, Jack Guiney recently joined an ever-growing Wexford injury list, and a knee injury will keep him out of action will keep him out of the Kilkenny clash.
Thus far in the league campaign, Fitzgerald has given game-time to just 23 members of his panel, as opposed to Tipperary (30), Galway (29) and Kilkenny (29).
But now, a League game where the Cats will be going all-out to win will provide an excellent opportunity for ‘fringe panel members’ to prove their worth and impress the managerial set-up.
In the previous three meetings between the pair, the Model County have emerged victorious – and Cody will be doing everything in his power to change this newly formed norm.