Injured skipper Phillips back in Steelers’ squad

Captain's come-back: Jonathan Phillips prepares for return.

Captain's come-back: Jonathan Phillips prepares for return.

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LUCKLESS winger Jonathan Phillips will return to Sheffield Steelers’ line up after his latest serious knee injury.

The Cardiff-born forward, 29, aims to face off against his home city team, the Devils, on Saturday.

Phillips, the team captain in his sixth year at the club, has been on the injury list since a “kneeing” incident against Dundee Stars back on September 2. But he says: “I am ready to play. I have worked so hard and have been skating for a few weeks now. I have full mobility in the knee and it feels better than it has done for an age. The physio says I am good to go and I’ve just had the final all-clear from the surgeon” said Phillips.

“I’ve told the coach (Ryan Finnerty) I am back for the Cardiff game, I have missed long enough it’s time for me to get back in that uniform. I know my own body and right now it is screaming at me: ‘Let me play.’

“It has been so frustrating watching and not playing. Even at the weekend I thought I was fit enough to play in Denmark but it wasn’t to be.

“I still went, I practised hard on the ice every day - I know I’m ready.”

Steelers will warmly welcome a fully-fit Phillips back, as they have a cluster of fixtures ahead of them after returning from their Continental Cup series in Denmark.

They play Cardiff on Saturday, Hull Stingrays on Sunday and then three games in three days the following weekend, Belfast Giants Friday, Decmeber 9, Coventry Blaze away, the following day and Breahead Clan at home on Sunday December 11. That’s five games in nine days.

Phillips will also have an eye on January 15, when he will lock horns against with Dundee.

Meanwhile, defenceman Rod Sarich was last night released from hospital after an operation which removed part of a kidney, following injury against Nottingham Panthers. Owner Tony Smith said: “Roddy’s still in a lot of pain. It’s going to be a slow come-back but both he and the fans can rest assured that we will help all that we can in the rehabilitation.”

Steelers have offered a contract to a 28-year-old Canadian defenceman playing in the Central Hockey League as a season-long replacement for Sarich. They are awaiting his verdict.

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