Robert Dowd relishes the rivalry for best Sheffield Steelers' positions

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Robert Dowd knows the competition for the prime spots at Sheffield Steelers will be keener than ever this season - but he is ready to embrace the challenge.

Dowd maybe the oldest player on the roster but his fitness and deadly shot make him a highly dangerous asset for coach Aaron Fox.

The Great Britain winger was the club's top goal scorer with 30 from 69 outings last season and was plus-16 in the plus-minus stats in the regular season and plus-one in the play offs.

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But the influx of eight new import skaters and the coach's ambition to have a stronger, younger and faster line-up means nobody can take their previous positions for granted.

Robert Dowd: team first philosophy Pic Dean WoolleyRobert Dowd: team first philosophy Pic Dean Woolley
Robert Dowd: team first philosophy Pic Dean Woolley

Some observers speculate that the club could start out with the top two lines resembling these formations: Josh Nicholls-Patrick Watling-Marco Vallerand and Brett Neumann-Scott Allen-Daniel Ciampini.

Fox will doubtless try out several combinations in practice and the pre-season games before settling on his eventual choice, for when the serious stuff starts.

If it does mean Dowd on a third line, the Teessider won't be sulking.

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"I haven't been on third line for a lot of years but if that is where he wants to put me and he thinks that is where I will be most effective, then I will put my head down and do my job" Dowd told The Star.

Ooops, missing letter in Sheffield logo has been rectifiedOoops, missing letter in Sheffield logo has been rectified
Ooops, missing letter in Sheffield logo has been rectified

"I can't imagine myself being put on a holding line; that really has never been my game, I am not a defensive specialist, never have been.

"My game is more about causing havoc at the other end so if it is a third line that is going to go out and score 60-odd goals between us, on the year, then yeah ok.

"I will get the job done as long as I'm put in offensive positions when needed. I will do what I am told and get on with it."

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Dowd, 35, believes his overall game has improved, in the past few years.

"I like to think I am more responsible on the defensive side as I get older," he said.

"But offensively I don't think I've changed as much, I still rip around as fast as I can and help the team with more of a physical presence than before, and hopefully pop 30 goals in a year, which is a target I set myself every season.

"I have sort of recognised, as things have gone on, that teams need someone with a physical presence. I do that and am strong on my skates."

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Dowd had praise for strength and conditioning coach Mike Mawer.

"He's fantastic, I wouldn't be in the shape I am now without him, I've been setting personal records this summer.

"I have never lifted as heavy and as fast which isn't bad for a golden oldie!

"Me, Cole Shudra, Liam Kirk, Curtis Warburton and Jonathan Phillips have been working out together and been in constant contact with Mike. He Skypes the rest of guys...when they are signed his is one of the first calls to be made and sets their programmes to make sure they are ready.

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"He is massive in keeping people in the condition that we are in."

Meanwhile, a spelling mistake on the on-ice branding at the centre of the Arena pad - Sheffield had lost an 'l' in the word - has been corrected, says the club.

More importantly, the initials AG (representing the late Alex Graham) have been painted in the centre circle.