SWINDON Wildcats will be look to get their English Premier League play-off campaign off to a flying start tonight when they travel to Milton Keynes Lightning.

The Link Centre men, who will welcome back star forward Tomasz Malasinski and veteran Phil Hill after they were rested on Sunday, could not have asked for a much tougher start.

However, new dad and Cats player-coach Aaron Nell, who expects to be at Planet Ice this evening, is relishing the challenge of the new-look play-offs which will see his side play Lightning, Basingstoke Bison and Hull Pirates home and away before the top two in the group progress to finals weekend on April 8-9.

“I love how the play-offs have been restructured,” said Nell, whose wife Sarah gave birth to a baby girl on Sunday night.

“Everywhere the play-offs are done over a longer period so it good that we are now doing that here, it makes them much more important.

“Before you could have a four-game hot streak and you’d win the play-offs now you’ve got eight to win it and the best team will come out on top.”

While saying that the play-offs campaign gives them a fresh start, Nell knows that they have a tough start.

“Our games with Milton Keynes have been very tight,” added Nell, who has missed the majority of the season after dislocating his shoulder at the end of October.

“They are a very good team and I’m sure that it will be another close game this time.”

Veteran Lee Richardson says the Cats must try to get off to a good start in their own section, with Telford Tigers, Peterborough Phantoms, Guildford Flames and Sheffield Steeldogs contesting the other pool of four.

“I don’t think it mattered which group you ended up in,” said Richardson, who is in his testimonial year at the Link Centre.

“All the games we have got are going to be tough.

“It is important that you get off to a good start because you don’t want to be scrambling around for points.

“We have got six games in 12 days and that is very intense so we have to make sure that we manage them correctly.”

Cats welcome Hull Pirates to the Link Centre on Saturday before making the trip to Basingstoke 24 hours later.

Lightning make the return trip to Swindon next Wednesday before Nell takes his side north to Hull on Saturday, April 1.

Swindon end their group matches at the Link Centre the following day with a visit from Basingstoke.