SWINDON Wildcats player-coach Aaron Nell admits it was always going to be tough to keep hold of youngsters Joe Hazeldine and Jordan Kelsall.

The teenage duo were both at the Link Centre as part of a dual deal with Nottingham Panthers last season, as they looked to get some valuable ice time.

Ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, it’s been announced that the youngsters will now remain with the Elite League side, instead of returning to Swindon.

However Nell revealed the players have served their purpose, as the whole premise behind the pair signing last season was to prepare them for a league campaign at the National Ice Centre this year.

“It was tough because we don't have any control over either of them,” said Nell.

“We knew pretty early on that Jordan would be going back to Nottingham this year. We would have liked to keep Joe, but there were a few things that would have made it difficult.

“They used to travel down together. Joe is quite young so driving here and back would have been a bit much for him.

“The whole idea of them both coming here was to get them into the Nottingham team and that is what we have been able to do.

“That reflects well on us too because we have been able to do that for them. I know Jordan has been in camp already to try and get into the team

“When Jordan signed for us last year the whole idea was to try to get him and Joe ready to get into the Panthers’ team.”

While some fans may think the roster could now be a little light, with two players fewer than last year, Nell reiterated that the Cats are still in a good place.

With plenty of announcements still to come, including two import spots, Nell says his team will be more streamlined than last season.

“We brought in Tyler Plews but he’s not really a replacement for Joe. He will shore up our defence a little bit,” he added.

“We still have some announcements to make in the next few weeks so I’m happy with where we are.

“Last year I think we almost had too many players at the end of the season.

“Towards the end of the year we had 10 players trying to get in for nine spots. It’s never a bad thing to have too many players but it was difficult at times.