Phantoms release Latvian defender

Edgars Apelis (left) has been axed by the Peterborough Phantoms. Photo: Alan Storer.
Edgars Apelis (left) has been axed by the Peterborough Phantoms. Photo: Alan Storer.
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Peterborough Phantoms have today (January 6) proved they will leave no stone unturned in their quest for success by axing one of their imports.

Latvian defenceman Edgars Apelis has been released from his contract earlier this week following an assessment of the club’s roster.

Apelis’ exit comes after just 29 appearances for Phantoms in his debut British season and during which he contributed five goals and nine assists.

The 24 year-old’s fitness is known to have been an ongoing concern for club chiefs and he played no part in either of the club’s victories against Bracknell and Telford last weekend.

Player-coach Slava Koulikov said: “We are entering the final phase of the season and we have evaluated the team from top to bottom.

“We came to the decision that we feel a change of direction in this position will make us stronger.”

It is understood the city club already have a replacement lined up with rumours suggesting a Ukrainian defenceman, who possesses previous British experience, on their radar.

Apelis became the second player to depart in the space of three days after forward Alan Lack left following the Sunday success over Telford.

Koulikov is still considering his options for that forward berth, but believes he may already be able to fill the void by handing more responsibility to two pre-Christmas additions – Mason Webster and Martins Susters.

“I can see two guys filling the one spot that Alan had,” added Koulikov. “Martins and Mason are totally different players, but between them they have many of the qualities we need.”

It is not clear if a new face is likely to be secured in time for the club’s key outing of this weekend at Basingstoke on Saturday (6.30pm).

Phantoms won 4-2 in their previous visit to Hampshire in early December and another success would provide a huge boost in the chase for a top-four finish.

Reigning play-off champions Basingstoke are currently fifth and five points behind Phantoms, but they do boast a couple of games in hand.

Koulikov admits he senses a change of approach from the club’s opponents over the course of the season.

He continued: “We were maybe under-estimated in many ways in the beginning, but teams probably prepare a bit differently to face us now than they did previously.”