Coach favourite Phillips gives Steelers ‘new’ dimension

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JONATHAN Phillips leads Sheffield Steelers into battle against Dundee Stars tomorrow with all the zest of a brand new signing.

The Welsh winger missed 20 games through a nasty knee injury suffered via the misplaced knee of Dundee player Chris Zarb back in September.

While Phillips has accepted it was clumsy rather than intentional, the Steeler is unlikely to be gushing with joy at seeing the 6ft 4ins American back at Sheffield Arena.

Instead he will carry on what he always does - bringing speed and energy to his line with Ryan Finnerty and Luke Fulghum.

And there is plenty of that in abundance after his long, frustrating lay off.

Phillips, who is four points shy of 300 all-time EIHL competitive points, is one of player coach Finnerty’s favourites.

“Jono came back in great shape, like a new signing, and it didn’t take him long to get into his stride,” he said.

“He is easy to play with because he is so predictable, you always know where he is going to be and that he is going to work hard.”

Phillips has scored two goals and three assists in the last four games, which has been a handy return, says Finnerty, who could do with a goal himself, at the moment.

“I like to see the goals spread around the lines,” he said. “We are tryng to get the third line to chip in with a couple but I have had no concerns about a lack of productivity anywhere in the side.”

Steelers, defensively, continue to scour north America for a rock-hard asset to toughen up their blue line.

They may be close to doing that - but he won’t be in Sheffield tomorrow as Steelers try and contain Stars offence in general, and Jeff Hutchins, in particular.