New Westmeath manager Jack Cooney has been dealt a blow as star forward John Heslin is set to take a step away from the panel to complete his studies.
First reported by the Westmeath Independent, the new Lake County manager revealed that Heslin is to take time out as he completes his PhD.
"John hasn't returned to the squad because he's in the middle of completing his PhD," said Cooney.
"I can appreciate that it takes a massive amount of time and dedication to complete a PHD and nobody is going to put on any additional pressure on John given the circumstances."
Cooney added that he is leaving the door open to the 26-year-old, should he wish to rejoin the panel later in the season.
Westmeath will compete in Division 3 of the National Football League and face Laois in the 2019 Leinster quarter-final with the winners meeting Carlow, Meath or Offaly.
- Digital Desk