Coach Koulikov a worried man as Phantoms injuries pile up

Mason Webster (right) has been ruled out for at least four weeks. Photo: Alan Storer/Feral Marmot Films

Mason Webster (right) has been ruled out for at least four weeks. Photo: Alan Storer/Feral Marmot Films

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Peterborough Phantoms player-coach Slava Koulikov admits an injury crisis has left him an extremely worried man.

The city club have three players who are expected to be sidelined for several more weeks and others having treatment for knocks.

Import ace Darius Pliskauskas has finally been forced to rest in a bid to recover from a fractured elbow after playing through the pain of the injury for several weeks while defenceman James Hutchinson has knee ligament damage.

Those two influential players were joined on the casualty list by a couple of the club’s up-and-coming forward players in recent days.

Mason Webster also suffered a fractured elbow when falling into the boards during a club training session last Friday night and will miss at least four weeks according to his boss.

Then 16 year-old Latvian whizzkid Martins Susters suffered shoulder and collar-bone injuries in the English Challenge Cup success at Solway the following night. Initial x-rays have not showed up any breaks, but he is still likely to be out for a couple of weeks.

Outstanding netminder Janis Auzins also has a knock and was considered a doubt for a home clash against bottom side Bracknell last night (Wednesday) while defenceman Scott Robson has also been having physiotherapy after hurting a leg last weekend.

Speaking earlier this week, Koulikov said: “The number of injuries we have is really starting to worry me.

“We now have half-a-dozen important guys out and it is difficult for any team to cope with that.

“I don’t think I have ever known a season like this with so many players suffering breaks or fractures.

“We have already had myself out with a fractured wrist and Greg Pick out with a broken finger, and now we have more guys injured.

“All we can do is try to ride it out as best we can and hope we get everyone back healthy before the play-offs.”

Koulikov will boost his roster with young players from the Islanders and Under 18s ranks if necessary.

He was impressed with the contributions of James White and Connor Stokes amongst others during their final weekend of cup action.

White scored a first senior goal in a 4-2 revenge win over Solway and Stokes took the man-of-the-match accolade in the 8-2 loss at Blackburn.

Phantoms have only one game this weekend – a Saturday trip to Swindon (5.45pm) for an important clash in the race for a top-four finish.

The Wildcats leapfrogged Phantoms in the standings last weekend, but the city team had the opportunity to move back above them into third place with a win against Bracknell last night when new import forward Donatas Kumeliauskas was expected to get his first taste of English Premier League hockey.

Koulikov added: “It is a big game in Swindon in terms of league positions for both teams, but my biggest concern is the injuries.”

ENGLISH CHALLENGE CUP

Team: P Pts

Telford 12 23

Manchester 12 19

Sheffield 12 16

Phantoms 12 12

Blackburn 12 8

Solway 12 6

Billingham 12 1