Darren Hughes suffers knee injury in blow for Monaghan

Darren Hughes made his Monaghan debut in 2006
Darren Hughes made his Monaghan debut in 2006

Monaghan's challenge for the Ulster Senior Football title has been hit by the loss of midfielder Darren Hughes.

One of manager Malachy O'Rourke's key players will be sidelined for 12 weeks with torn medial knee ligaments.

Hughes, 30, suffered the injury during a game for his club Scotstown at the weekend and scans on Wednesday confirmed the extent of the damage.

Monaghan, Ulster champions in 2013 and 2015, open this year's campaign against Fermanagh on Saturday 20 May.

Hughes told the Irish News he will be forced to undergo surgery if the injury fails to respond within the next four weeks, which would rule him out for the year.

"It's not the cruciate so I suppose that's kind of a bonus," he said.

"At the minute I don't need surgery - they were afraid of a full rupture but they don't think it is so. I've just to look after it and hopefully it'll heal well."