Greener needs time to settle inBy Alan Manicom
December 23, 2008
Adam Bicknell believes the return of Adam Greener will be the perfect Christmas present for injury-hit Bracknell Bees. But he has warned fans not to expect too much too soon from their former captain.
Greener has just three more days to serve of the two-year ban he received for failing a drugs test.
And although he will still be suspended for the Boxing Day clash at home to English Premier League leaders Guildford Flames, he will make his comeback the following day at Isle of Wight Raiders.
And his return can’t come quick enough for Bicknell, whose side were missing six other senior players due to illness, injury and suspension when they lost 4-2 at home to Sheffield Scimitars on Sunday.
It was Bees’ third successive defeat and Bicknell, who was forced to double up in defence as well as attack, said: “It will be great to have Adam back. He will be a big addition to the squad.
“He is a massive part of our team. He is a character and a leader, who knows what it takes to win.”
Greener is eagerly anticipating a return to action – not least because he will be linking up with his younger brother Joe for the first time in their senior careers.
But Bicknell added: “I think we all have to be patient with him because two years is a long time not to play competitively. Adam has been skating with us and is very, very fit, but it will take time for him to get match sharp again. We will need to give him a good month.”
Bees’ player-coach is confident that Czech defenceman Jan Melichar will be back in action on Boxing Day.
Melichar injured a knee in Bees’ 3-2 defeat at second-placed Peterborough Phantoms on Saturday, a result that also counted towards the EPL Cup.
Bees now need to avoid defeat at home to Telford Tigers in their final Cup qualifier on February 1 to seal their place in the semi-finals.
Bicknell is also hopeful that big Czech defenceman Roman Kelner will have recovered from illness by Boxing Day.
Definitely back will be versatile Lithuanian Andrius Kaminskas, who was serving a two-match suspension last weekend following his match penalty for a bust-up with Scott Spearing in the post-game handshakes when Bees lost to Slough Jets nine days ago.
First-choice netminder Gregg Rockman hopes to make his return from an ankle injury in Bees’ game at Guildford on New Year’s Day.
But Tom Duggan’s shoulder problem will keep him out until the end of January, while it is feared Scott Moody may need six more weeks out to recover from a knee injury.
Bicknell was full of praise for the effort that his depleted squad put in before being edged out by title-chasing Peterborough on Saturday.
“I think we deserved a point,” said Bicknell, whose side were level at 2-2 after two periods before losing to the only goal of the final session.
And he found it hard to criticise his team on Sunday when they had just one of their permitted four imports available.
“We gave Sheffield a couple of weak goals, but we were short-handed,” said Bicknell.
“It was a great opportunity for the British players to step up. But when the other team has all four imports it is tough.”
Meanwhile Bees have appointed GB Under-20 boss Pete Russell as bench coach for the rest of the season.
The former Swindon Wildcats coach is renowned for his work in developing junior British players and will shortly lead the GB U-20s squad in their World Championship campaign in Spain.
Steve Gannaway has been Bees’ bench coach up until now, but the club’s injury problems have meant that recently he and player-coach Bicknell have been needed more on the ice than off it.
Bicknell said: “I have been in contact with Pete for several weeks and he is keen to finish the season with an EPL club.
“Having known Pete from our early Slough days, he is someone I trust and respect.
“He will bring a wealth of experience to our team. Having a bench coach of Pete’s calibre will really help focus the team on match nights and also allow myself to concentrate on playing.”