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Odhrán Mac Niallais and Leo McLoone set for Donegal returns

Duo opted out of panel in 2017 and have spent summer playing in New York

Odhrán Mac Niallais is set to return to the Donegal side under Declan Bonner. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Odhrán Mac Niallais and Leo McLoone are poised to return to the Donegal squad under new manager Declan Bonner.

The duo opted out of the Donegal panel for 2017 and their absence was notable as they were annihilated in Ulster by Tyrone and then went down timidly to Galway in a qualifier that ended Rory Gallagher’s tenure as manager.

Mac Niallais came to prominence under Jim McGuinness in 2014 while McLoone was centre forward on the Donegal side that won the All-Ireland in 2012.

Both were unavailable for Donegal this year and spent the summer playing in New York.

Bonner – who has been given a three-year term as the Donegal boss – has confirmed that he has spoken to the two players regarding their intercounty futures.

“The picture will become clearer after the club championship, but those are the type of players we need,” Bonner said.

Donegal have been hit by a spate of retirements in the last couple of years, but Bonner does not anticipate the likes of Frank McGlynn or Neil McGee to follow.

Bonner said: “I have spoken to most of the guys in that bracket. We do need those experienced players.”

Bonner was asked about Michael Murphy’s role in the team and suggested that the Glenswilly man would have ‘a more advanced role’ under his watch.

The 1992 All-Ireland winner is confident that Donegal can battle for silverware in 2018.

He said: “We have lost more players than other counties, but we still have the nucleus of a very good side.

“Our ambition is to be competitive and we have to aim for the Super 8. The easiest way to get in there is by winning the Ulster championship. Ulster will be a minefield again. It’s going to be a tough one.”