Injury boost sought by Sheffield Steelers ahead of clash at Belfast Giants

INJURY DOUBT: Sheffield Steelers' Marc-Olivier Vallerand. Picture: Dean Woolley.
INJURY DOUBT: Sheffield Steelers' Marc-Olivier Vallerand. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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AARON FOX is expecting to make a number of key calls on various players’ fitness as late as possible for tonight’s clash with Elite League title rivals Belfast Giants.

Defenceman Ben O’Connor and forward Marc-Olivier Vallerand both missed last weekend through injury and are expected to travel to the SSE Arena this morning.

COMEBACK? Ben O'Connor wasinjured in the New Year's Day overtime defeat at home to Nottingham Panthers. Picture: Dean Woolley.

COMEBACK? Ben O'Connor wasinjured in the New Year's Day overtime defeat at home to Nottingham Panthers. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Head coach Fox is also hoping to have better news on long-term injured defencemen James Bettauer and Aaron Johnson.

League leaders Steelers head to Northern Ireland to be welcomed by a third-placed Giants team suffering from a touch of inconsistency, Adam Keeff’s men having lost two of their last four games to leave them seven points adrift of tonight’s visitors with two games in hand.

Another loss on home ice to the Steelers like the 4-0 reverse suffered at the SSE Arena on December 7 could be a significant blow to their hopes of retaining their regular season title, although Fox, despite being buoyed by wins last weekend over Guildford and Glasgow, knows his team will be in for another stiff test.

“Every game is huge right now,” said Fox. “Belfast are a really good hockey team, I know that they haven’t been as consistent as they would like, but if you watch their film back, they play a physical, aggressive game.

Belfast are a really good hockey team, I know that they haven’t been as consistent as they would like, but if you watch their film back, they play a physical, aggressive game.

Aaron Fox

“They’ve had a little bit of a hard time scoring goals some nights, but there is a lot of puck luck involved in that but, ultimately, they are a very good hockey team.

“They will be ready to go and they handed us our business on the Friday night over there last time, but we found a way to punch back the following night and get a great win.”