Ferrara deserves his chance at the higher level

Luke Ferrara in action for Phantoms.

Luke Ferrara in action for Phantoms.

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Phantoms player-coach Slava Koulikov believes local lad Luke Ferrara deserves his chance to shine at the highest level.

Ferrara has clinched a full-time switch to Elite League champions Sheffield Steelers after impressing for them on a two-way deal last season.

The 21 year-old played more than 250 times for Phantoms at senior level after emerging from the club’s junior system and signed off in style by helping them to English Premier League Play-Offs glory at Easter.

Koulikov said: “Luke is such a professional guy and so determined to have the best career he possibly can.

“He has earned his chance to play on the big stage after doing well on the two-way last season when he really matured as a player and benefitted from being on two winning teams.”

Ferrara is the only member of Phantoms’ successful play-off so far confirmed as departing this summer.

But Koulikov accepts the club could be vulnerable to moves for their players from any of their EPL rivals with more financial muscle.

He added: “We have spoken to all players since the end of the season and at this stage no-one other than Luke has told me they won’t be back.

“I was pleased with lots of guys’ performances last season and now it is a case of trying to make them happy financially after winning the play-offs. Some bigger clubs are probably going to come along and target our players, but I hope to keep more than 50 per cent of them together as an absolute minimum.”