Kieran Joyce feels Kilkenny need to keep TJ Reid on the field this summer if they are to be in the mix for the Liam MacCarthy Cup come August.
Brian Cody's side left it late to get over the line against Dublin in their Leinster SHC opener last Sunday and Joyce, who retired from Kilkenny duty last season, is hoping the victory at Parnell Park is the first of many to come for a fully fit Cats squad over the next couple of months.
"If we can keep TJ (Reid) injury-free for a year, if we got the likes of Richie Hogan back in, I do think we could be All-Ireland contenders. It obviously is very dependent on that," Joyce told the Irish Independent.
"Obviously Wally (Walter Walsh) as well, there's a couple of key players there, if we lose them it will be a tough season.
"I do think, look, the spine of the team are starting to show, from Brian's point of view he's after finding a few players in the league, Martin Keoghan and those lads have shown up well.
"He does have options there whereas probably in previous years he didn't. He took a risk there and started a few lads that maybe historically in games previously he wouldn't. I do think probably Galway have the strongest panel of the championship, after that maybe Tipp when they get everyone back."