Video: Opportunity knocks in eight Sheffield Steelers’ games

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Sheffield Steelers will have eight pre-season matches to hone their skills - and bring on the crop of exciting young talent - before the EIHL and Continental Cup campaigns start in earnest.

The club will have back-to-back international exhibition games against former Steeler Rob Wilson’s German DEL Side Nurnberg Ice Tigers and Swedish side Sodertalje, in September.

And they are also planning home and away matches against Elite competitors Manchester Storm and Coventry Blaze before the serious action begins.

It will be a chance for the eight new imports to bed in.

But it also provides an opportunity for the younger players coming through their apprenticeships alongside the seniors at the club: Cole Shudra, aged 18, Liam Kirk, 17, and the latest addition, Kieran Brown, who only turned 16 in February.

“Kieran will spend a month in training camp and if he sticks and is good enough he wil have taken someone’s place” says Paul Thompson, a coach who plays players who are in form.

GB youngsters Cole Sudra and Liam Kirk with coach Thompson

GB youngsters Cole Sudra and Liam Kirk with coach Thompson

“It is a big year for young Shudra” too, he said.

“He’s worked extremely hard this Summer, I think he has put on about eight kilograms (17lbs) of weight from this time last year.”

Winger Kirk stole most of the limelight last year, with Shudra, traditionally a forward but playing on defence, struggled at times with back problems. But the coach likened Cole to his father Ron, a founding father of the club.

“I have that great option (on where to play Shudra Jr.) He is a bit like his Dad in the fact he reads the game pretty well.

“He is cool, calm, smart, big and like his Dad, subtle in what he does...but gets it done.

“We just have to get it to the professional level now. He’s a young kid people forget that. It is not a quick fix.”

Thompson said the mental strength of the apprentices was every bit as important as physical attributes.