FORMER head coach Ryan Aldridge will be back in charge of Swindon Wildcats this weekend as current-player coach Aaron Nell is away with the Great Britain U20s side.

Nell is an assistant coach with the GB youth squad, who are taking part in the World Championships in Dumfries, Scotland over the weekend.

The Wildcats chief isn’t the only absentee as youngsters Jordan Kelsall and Ollie Stone have also made the trip north of the border as part of the squad.

The Link Centre men will be considerably short this weekend as they are also now without Sam Zajac after he played his last game for the club last weekend.

However, Aldridge, who oversees the club’s Okanagan Hockey Academy, says squad depth isn’t a problem ahead of tonight’s home clash with Cardiff Fire in NIHL South One.

“I did it once last year when Aaron was out, I’m around the boys quite a bit anyway so it is nothing too crazy,” said Aldridge, who will also take the team to Invicta Dynamos tomorrow.

“I’ve watched both teams play this year and I think as long as our boys come to work on both nights, then it should be a four-point weekend for them.

“Some of my boys in the academy are going to be playing at the weekend, that is a good chance for them, but in terms of the Wildcats, they are a little bit short but I am sure they’ll be fine.

“Me, Steve (Nell, club owner) and Aaron have been talking about how we can get the young players in, so it’s funny how it works out.

“It’s good for them but it is obviously good for the future of the Wildcats too.”

The Cats are also boosted but the return of long-term absentee Toms Rutkis, the teenager comes back into contention following a jaw injury that required surgery back in September.

Having worked with Rutkis before in the club’s academy, Aldridge is delighted to see the youngster make a return to the ice.

“It’s great to see him back. It’s good for me as well because I love Toms Rutkis,” said Aldridge.

“I’ve always said if I was a coach in senior hockey again, he would be the first British player I would sign because he brings something different than most British players.

“It’s a chance for him to play some big minutes and get some games under his belt following that injury.”