Sheffield Steelers star Oskar Östlund closing in on return to action

Sheffield Steelers goalies Matt Greenfield and Oskar OstlundSheffield Steelers goalies Matt Greenfield and Oskar Ostlund
Sheffield Steelers goalies Matt Greenfield and Oskar Ostlund
Oskar Östlund is practising at full pelt and believes he is ready to challenge for the starting goaltending spot at Sheffield Steelers.

The Swedish netminder was injured in a freak warm-up incident back on September 3 and hasn't featured since.

Fortunately, Matt Greenfield has excelled in goal for the EIHL club - which will host league leaders Guildford Flames in front of a sell-out 9,300 crowd on Saturday.

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But it has been a tough time for Östlund, who has never suffered such an injury reverse in his career before.

Östlund says he believes in the club's rehabilitation process and will leave the decision on exactly when he is declared fully fit to the professionals.

But from a personal point of view, the goalie believes he is ready and is working to his limits in practice.

"I am talking to Alfie (Martin, Head Sports Rehabilitator) and the situation is day-to-day now" said Östlund.

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"It's not in my hands, I feel I am getting there - or I am there - it's now about the medical aspect. I'm waiting to be cleared, basically.

"I cannot say if it's today, a day or a week away; it is not in my hands, the decision has to be taken by someone with medical education, not me...I'm just a hockey player."

Östlund added that the scans on his publicly undisclosed injury were fully completed.

"I hope I get cleared - I will be asking them if I am good to go."

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The former Storhamar custodian, who turns 31 next month, says there is still some residual pain.

"You expect that with an injury; pain hasn't been the major issue.

"The major issue has been the set-back of when I got reinjured and had to start again."

The player said the fact he has been training but not playing makes him feel like he has undergone an extraordinarily long Summer.

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Asked about his darkest moments, he says: "100 percent the mental side has been worst part.

"This is first time I am injured in my whole life so I kind of feel Ive been lucky taken this long, in that aspect use that as a motivation.

"I hope its another 31 years before I get injured again.

"I need to find something to look forward to. I still haven't played at home.

"I am a calm person in real life I am not trying to create any stress inside of myself."

The Swede has watched all of Sheffield's home matches.

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"I just have to trust the process and be patient. When I'm cleared to play I will try and get my minutes. I don't want to watch more hockey! I want to play."

Östlund knows he faces a massive challenge getting in Steelers' goal, given the form of Matt Greenfield.

"Greener has played unbelievable, he's really solid. For me, all I am going to do is to try my best and see where that goes.

"All I really want is someone with expertise to say I am healed and fit to go then I will feel 110 percent ready."

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