PAUL THOMPSON insists he will not risk star British forward Robert Dowd – regardless of the temptation to get him back into Sheffield Steelers’ line-up.
With all hope of a sixth Elite League title gone – Wednesday night’s 3-0 home defeat to defending champions Cardiff Devils seeing the South Wales club going 10 points clear at the top – the Steelers can be forgiven for having one eye on lifting the end-of-season play-off trophy.
And head coach Thompson wants to ensure that Dowd – out since sustaining a lower-body injury during the Continental Cup Final weekend in January – has every chance of playing a significant role in the last few weeks of the campaign.
Earlier this week it was hoped that Dowd would be in contention for tonight’s trip to Belfast Giants but, after medical advice, the 29-year-old forward will have to wait a while longer for his return to competitive action.
“I was hoping Dowdy would be back this weekend but I’ve been told it will be too early for him this weekend,” said Thompson.
“There’s really no point in rushing him back at this particular time, I’d sooner bring him back so we can get the most out of him heading towards the end of the regular season and into the play-offs.”
Thompson will be looking for a positive reaction from his players at the SSE Arena tonight after their midweek setback at home to Cardiff, with the Steelers’ boss labelling his team’s first-period performance as “pathetic.”
Joonas Westerling picked up an injury on Wednesday and will be replaced by Zack Fitzgerald, no doubt chomping at the bit after being left on the sidelines for the last three games as the ‘spare’ import.
“I was going to bring Fitzy back in anyway, even before Westerling got injured – he’ll play as a forward,” added Thompson.
The Steelers return home to host Fife Flyers tomorrow (5pm).
There’s really no point in rushing him back at this particular time, I’d sooner bring him back so we can get the most out of him heading towards the end of the regular season and into the play-offs.Sheffield Steelers’ head coach, Paul Thompson