Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips could be out of action until the New Year because of a groin injury which requires surgery on Friday.
It is a leadership blow for Sheffield, who lost Colton Fretter to a similar ailment, and have been deprived the services of the likes of Tyler Plante, Levi Nelson, Rob Dowd and the now-departed Mike Duco in recent weeks.
The speedy 10-season Steeler has disguised his injury well - you would never have known he’d had a problem.
And he has delayed his surgery in the best interests of the club - something he has put before himself all his long career at the House of Steel.
Phillips, 33, has scored more goals so far this season than he did all last. And coach Paul Thompson said: “Jonna is a warrior and for the last six games has been having pain killing injections before every game. He hasn’t been able to practise and once the injections have worn off he has hardly been able to walk.
“He has two muscle tears and a hernia and will undergo his operation on Friday. I appreciate his efforts. He has played through the pain barrier once again for this team and waited until the time was right for the club to have the operation. It would have been easy for him to go to the hospital two or three weeks ago. He knew we were short and gritted his teeth and played on – we can all see why he is the captain here.
“With hopefully a full import line up this weekend, we felt that this was the best time for Jonna to go in rather than risk any long term ill effects. I have said before Jonathan is as good a captain and professional player as you can get and we are lucky to have him here. He has gone that extra mile for the club.
“Our Physio Paul Teather has worked closely along side all of our other medical staff. We know exactly what Jonna’s problem is and are confident that the surgery will resolve all issues. Our captain is a super fit individual and hopefully his recovery time will short”
Luke Ferrara will benefit from the additional ice time in Phillips’ absence: “I think this is Luke’s time” he said “I’ve been pleased with his progress so far this season. We have a good one in Luke.”