Sheffield Steelers’ coach admits forward Anthony DeLuca has work to do to fit into team ethos and conditioning

Steelers boss Tom Barrasso belives new winger Anthony DeLuca has fitness issues and has yet to find his niche in the side.

The 23-year-old Canadian has played eight games for Sheffield, picking up his first point, an assist, in last Sunday's win over Belfast Giants at the Arena.

Anthony DeLuca drives the net

Anthony DeLuca drives the net

In that match, he drove the net from the right win, enabling Josh McFadden to score the team's third of the evening.

Barrasso, though, has reservations about the player's fitness - and even the way in which he achieved his single point, so far.

"He assisted on a goal, not exactly the manner I'd like to see him assist on a goal, but we're still working on it, it's a work in progress" said the coach.

"His conditioning is not where it needs to be at all, in my opinion.

"His shift-length is too long, he has not quite fit into what we are looking to do as a group.

"And that's on me, I have got to coach him better."

As for the assist, specifically, Barrasso commented: "It was a very long shift in our zone and it turned into a long shift in the offensive zone; it is just not the way we want to play.

"We can't play with pace if we are on the ice for too long, I would rather see us have good habits and get off the ice when we have the opportunities."

Steelers play at Dundee Stars on Sunday and will be without defenceman Davey Phillips (wrist) and Eric Neiley.

The forward has had some scans performed, so the club is awaiting details.

With Phillips out for some time, Steelers have been scouting the market for a replacement blueliner, but have had no success so far.

Wednesday's defeat at Glasgow Clan - the team was also without Robert Dowd - was a reminder that short-benches are vulnerable in the high-standards of the Elite League.

Sheffield have rarely been able to play four line hockey in the first 29 league and cup games of this season.