Ryan targets best British blue-liner - VIDEO INTERVIEW

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Ryan Finnerty may carry out a complete over haul of the title-winning Sheffield Steelers to accommodate the loss of Belfast-bound forward Rob Dowd.

Finnerty accepts he is unlikely to find a home-grown Brit to replace Dowd, like for like.

So he is aiming to have an import step into Dowd’s skate boots - and bring in another Brit on defence instead.

New player-coach Finnerty said: “You can’t replace him (Dowd.)

“As much as the talent is coming up through the (domestic) ranks - and the kids are getting better - Dowdy has excelled in the last two years; he is a top three or four Brit now.

“There are some D-men coming up through the ranks that we are looking at and hopefully fill the spot at the back end.”

However, Finnerty said another option would be to take “a gamble and put a youngster up on the front end and give him some ice time like Dowdy got a few years ago.”

The possible defensive shake-up would presumably see three North American blue-liners, Mark Thomas and one other Brit.

Finnerty said Thomas, currently on Great Britain duty in the Ukraine, was “reliable sound, getting better every year.”

Steelers, meanwhile, are in talks with Neil Abel, in the hope they can reach a deal to bring him back as bench coach for a second year.

“We have had chats with Neil, we haven’t had anything done yet, we have talked to a few other candidates as well” revealed Finnerty.

“But all the guys like Neil and he’d like to come back. I’m stressing whoever the bench coach is I’ll be relying on him a lot more than just putting up the lines. It isn’t going to be one guy pointing the finger. We’re going to come up with the best game plan and approach it as a team.

“Other guys have come to us and are interested and we have sat down and talked to them. We look to make a decision here soon.”