Zack Fitzgerald - the team guy who is determined to win his spot back

Zack Fitzgerald has admitted he finds it stressful having to sit out Sheffield Steelers’ games as a healthy scratch.

But he respects coach Paul Thompson’s right to make the decision - and says he will work hard to find his way back into the team.

The American defenceman, who admits he’s not had the best of seasons, has been dropped from the squad for the last three matches.

Fitzgerald, the darling of the Arena crowd, said no professional sports person ever wanted to be benched.

“But it is a team game. Thommo has got to make the tough decisions” he said.

“At the moment we have most of the guys going, it is what it is, it is not my first time in this situation.

Zack Fitzgerald: team player. Pictured flanked by Scott Aarssen and Andreas Valdix

Zack Fitzgerald: team player. Pictured flanked by Scott Aarssen and Andreas Valdix

“You have just got to work your rear end off and make yourself available and hopefully get in and keep that spot.

“That is just how it goes in competitive sport. I am a team guy, so I just want the best for the team.”

The 32-year-old former AHL player admits he’s had “a tough season really, in general.

“It’s been a long season, a lot of injuries, some suspensions and it’s not like being in the game normally and playing consistently and getting into a flow.”

His performance levels are not where it should be, he said.

“I am going to get it there. I am going to make sure I do...all I can do is worry about myself. It is never fun to watch a team play - it’s stressful, but it is what it is.”

As long as the team makes it to the play offs finals and give its best, then “all is forgotten” he added.

Fitzgerald watched Wednesday’s 0-3 home shut out loss to champions Cardiff Devils from the bench.

“We made a few mistakes and they took advantage in the first period.

“After that I thought we played really well.

“If you don’t put it in the net, it’s tough, obviously, to win a game. But I think we played hard” he said.

Fitzgerald will be hoping for a re-call on Saturday at Belfast Giants.

Steelers remain in fifth place three points behind the Northern Irish, and have a game in hand.

On Sunday, Steelers host Fife Flyers, who are a single point ahead. The Scots have three games in hand.