Tigers to rely on bulk of squad in Flames and Steeldogs tests
Telford Tigers will rely on depth players in this weekend’s encounters with Guildford and Sheffield, after the loss of Jonathan Weaver and Adam Taylor to injury for up to six weeks.
Talismanic defenceman Weaver left last Sunday’s game with Manchester in the first period, while young forward Taylor also finished the evening out of action.
Those absences will challenge a squad that Watkins guided to a perfect opening English Premier League weekend, with wins over Basingstoke and Manchester.
And with Joe Miller also injured, the Tigers chief will have to juggle his plans this weekend.
He said: “Weaves will be out for four to six weeks, and it will probably be something similar for Adam. We’re hopeful that we’ll get Joe Miller back in about two weeks.
“It’s just frustrating for those guys to start the way they did, especially Weaves and Joe, with how the season has gone for them so far. It’s very start and stop.
“They’re both working hard and doing all they can to be ready to play again and Adam is just following a prescribed plan from week to week.”
The emergence of young defenceman Corey Goodison could be a chink of light for Watkins in coming weeks, however, following his performance when filling in for Weaver.
Commitments with Telford’s NIHL side mean the 19-year-old won’t be available this weekend, but Watkins believes his side still has strength in depth.
He added: “It’s always important to have a squad with depth. We won’t have Corey all the time, as he’ll be up and down with the NIHL team.
“We’ve got three guys out and we’ve still been able to play three or four good lines of hockey, so depth is key.
“The important thing to remember is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
That 100% start to the season, albeit after just two games, will have raised expectations amongst the Telford fanbase – but Watkins urged caution ahead of this weekend.
“It is very early in the season, so we just need to keep on turning up and playing like we have been,” he said.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves. Every rink is a tough place to play, and teams have all got good players and netminding. The guys need to be at their best every night.
“I don’t judge any team, whether it’s at the start of the season or at the end, and as we’ve already seen, any team can beat the other in this league.”
Saturday’s clash with Guildford Flames, at the Spectrum, faces off at 6pm, while Sunday’s encounter with Sheffield Steeldogs, at Telford Ice Rink, also gets underway at 6pm.
For tickets to Sunday’s game, or to watch the live stream for just ￡6.95, go to www.tigershockeyuk.com.