SWINDON Wildcats have been served a tremendous roster boost days before their National League campaign is due to start.

Max Birbraer – last season’s NIHL South One leading points scorer – has agreed to come out of retirement and act as additional cover for the injured Tyler VanKleef and two-way prospect Toms Rutkis.

Based in Cardiff, 38-year-old Birbraer has iced 136 times in all competitions for Wildcats since joining the Link Centre outfit from Telford Tigers in 2016.

Despite announcing his retirement last season, the right-handed left winger is back for more – and is expected to feature in one game per week until player-coach Aaron Nell learns more about Tyler VanKleef’s leg injury.

As Birbraer, who was born in Kazakhstan, holds a British passport, his return to Wiltshire will have no impact on Nell’s import options – meaning he will eligible to ice in the company of Tomasz Malazinski and Jan Kostal.

Nell added: “With Tyler (VanKleef) out injured and Toms Rutkis’ week-by-week commitments with Cardiff, we needed that extra bit of cover.

“For the first couple of months, I expect Max to play one game each week. When we find out more about Tyler’s injury, we can reassess the situation.”

Birbraer will ice on Saturday as Telford Tigers visit the Link Centre in a pre-season friendly.

But the veteran forward will be absent from Nell’s squad in the return fixture 24 hours later.

Given Wildcats have only two more pre-season fixtures in place before they start their National League campaign at home a week on Saturday, Nell was keen to grant Birbraer some ice time.

He added: “The start of the season is so important, the first week is just as important as the last week for us.

“With the cup competition coupling up at the start of the season, the last thing we wanted to be was short on the bench.

“Bringing Jan (Kostal) back is great, and having Max in the roster covers all bases. Toms will play this weekend, but we can never guarantee when he will be available.

“Having that extra cover is important for us.”