SWINDON head coach Ryan Aldridge has all-but written off Lee Richardson’s chances of making a comeback before the end of the campaign.
The popular forward has been missing from the Wildcats line-up ever since he sustained torn knee ligaments in the 5-0 trashing of Sheffield on December 4.
Combined with the continued absence of Jamie Hayes, Swindon have struggled for personnel in the forward area and Richardson’s condition shows no sign of swift improvement, with surgery a possibility.
When questioned on whether the 30-year-old would be seen on the ice again this term, Aldridge said: “I think the chances are slim that he’ll make the play-offs or finish the season.
“He’s had a serious injury and he’s got to look after his future instead of rushing back.
“I just think he won’t be an option, but we’ve got to think positive as it will come around.
“From my side of it I’m planning for him being out of the line-up for the rest of the year, and if he comes back in then that’s a bonus for us.”
In the short term, Aldridge is focused on the double-header with Milton Keynes this weekend.
Paperwork permitting, new import Henri Sandvik will play for Wildcats in Buckinghamshire tomorrow (7pm) before taking on the Lightning at the Link Centre on Sunday (6pm).
Although Swindon are just five points behind MK in the standings, they have lost to Nick Poole’s side on three occasions out of three in the EPL this season, a balance Aldridge is keen to redress.
“Milton Keynes are a team that we seem to struggle against because of the size of our line-up and their line-up,” he said.
“They are a very big, strong team and I think probably our smaller D struggle with them at times and maybe our smaller forwards as well.
“We just have to play very smart against them, especially on the road. It’s a tough building to go and play in, especially in this weather, because if it’s as cold as it has been, that rink will be absolutely Baltic.
“We will go there and play a road game and see what we can squeeze out of them.
“Obviously we’re looking to get the points, but Sunday is more where we can play our style of game as we are at home.”
Wildcats were defeated twice by Bracknell last weekend which included a 6-2 loss at home on Saturday, and although Swindon claimed a point at the Hive on Sunday, Aldridge believes it is the previous result that has had a lasting impact.
“Saturday night probably shocked a few guys,” he said.
“I think we realised that we can still have a lull and that it’s not completely out of our system.
“It was a big wake-up call and I think it was a good time of the season for us to have that wake-up call.”
Meanwhile, Sunday's home game against Milton Keynes sees Wildcats run their Kids Go Free promotion, in an attempt to bring supporters into the Link Centre.