Slava frustrated by all the injuries we’re picking up

Tom Stubley fends off an MK attack by former Phantom Milan Baranyk. Picture: Tom Scott
Tom Stubley fends off an MK attack by former Phantom Milan Baranyk. Picture: Tom Scott

Phantoms coach Slava Koulikov is facing up to the prospect of being without his number one netminder and his skipper for the rest of the season.

Latvian shot-stopper Janis Auzins missed both matches last weekend - a 6-5 success in Sheffield and a 4-1 derby defeat to Milton Keynes - with a thigh-muscle problem.

Koulikov admits it is not currently clear how long the best goaltender at English Premier League level will be out.

The Phantoms coach then saw captain James Ferrara sustain a nasty eye injury against Milton Keynes.

While he was lucky to avoid any permanent damage after being caught by a high-stick, he is also expected to miss much – if not all – of the remainder of the campaign.

Ferrara’s unfortunate injury leaves Phantoms with only four senior defencemen as Ben Russell and Scott Robson remain out with concussion.

Koulikov said: “I keep asking myself ‘what is going on with injuries?’

“It is so frustrating that we just can’t catch a break. We don’t have any stability at the moment due to the amount of changes we’re having to make on a regular basis.

“But the guys are still going out there, performing with great credit and picking up results in the majority of games.

“Where Janis is concerned, it could be two weeks, it could be three or four, it could rule him out for the rest of the year.

“He has a muscle injury in the thigh area that he has been trying to manage for a while.

“Now it has got to the point where he needs to have a spell out to get himself back to 100 per-cent.

“We cannot take any risks with a netminder. If we bring him back too soon, it could make the injury worse.

“With James, we are all just relieved that he has his vision. Some things in life are more important than hockey and we will give him all the time he needs to recover.

“I’ve not even spoken to him about how long he expects to be out.

“I just want him to focus on getting himself back to 100 per-cent.”

Russell is thought to be the closest to a return of Phantoms’ injury victims. He skated in practice last week and is due to do the same again this week.

Phantoms were due to travel to Swindon last night (Wednesday) for a rare midweek fixture.

They face tests from opposite ends of the EPL table this weekend with a Saturday home clash against bottom side Bracknell (7pm) followed by a second trip of the month to table-topping Telford on Sunday (6pm).