Sheffield Steelers star confident of GB joy

Jonathan Phillips - Sheffield Steelers captain
Jonathan Phillips - Sheffield Steelers captain
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Sheffield Steelers’ skipper Jonathan Phillips says enforced changes to Great Britain’s Olympic qualifiers squad has not weakened the group at all.

GB, who have undergone a mini training camp in Coventry, are heading to Cortina in Northern Italy on Wednesday for the Pre-Qualifiers.

Phillips and his men will come up against hosts Italy, along with Serbia and Netherlands, with the winners progressing to Final Qualifying ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Team Coach Peter Russell had to make four changes after last weekend’s matches, with goalie Stevie Lyle, Sam Oakford, Ross Venus and Mark Garside all coming into the squad.

The quartet replace Stephen Murphy, Jonathan Weaver, Robert Farmer and Matt Haywood, with Steelers forward Robert Dowd having to pull out last month because of a leg injury.

Phillips said: “To make four changes sounds dramatic but the quality coming in proves we have strength in depth.

“There are guys being called up who were unlucky not make the final roster in the first place.

“Obviously we will miss the guys who are not here, but we still have a tremendous squad.

“Olympic tournaments are always very special and everyone is excited about the coming week.

“We met on Monday and already the spirit is fantastic. Whenever the GB boys meet up, it is like we have never been away. We have three huge games coming up but it is a challenge we are really looking forward to.”

GB begin the tournament with a game against Netherlands on Thursday, followed by Serbia on Saturday and Italy on Sunday.