Whitfield returns to Cats for new season
5:30am Thursday 29th May 2014 in By Michael Reeves, Deputy sports editor
STEVE Whitfield said that he wasted little time in agreeing to a new deal at Swindon Wildcats.
The 23-year-old is the seventh player from last season’s squad to commit his future to the Link Centre side as head coach Ryan Aldridge prepares for the new campaign.
Having joined the club’s junior section as a seven-year-old, Whitfield is relishing another term for Cats.
“I’m really happy to be coming back,” Whitfield said. “I enjoy playing for the club and it is a great set-up to be around.
“The last couple of years the conversations with Ryan have been pretty quick. I tell him that I’m here if he wants me to comeback and thankfully he does”
Aldridge added: “It’s great to have Stevie back. He is getting stronger and stronger every year and is a massive part of our D core now.
“His work rate and professionalism both on and off the ice is second to none and it has been great to watch him develop as a player over the years and it’s exciting to think about the player he could become.
“He’s a strange character to say the least - but one all the guys like to be around”
Having spent so much time around the Cats’ set-up, Whitfield said that he has seen a number of improvements to the EPL side.
“The level of professionalism goes up each year and the quality of the imports gets better,” he said.
“There have been massive improvements in the league each year.”
Cats coach Aldridge put a greater emphasis on team defence towards the end of last season as the Link Centre side put together a stunning run of eight wins in nine matches to reach the play-off finals weekend.
And Whitfield believes with the players that have already agreed to return - Stevie Lyle, Alex Symonds, Jan Kostal, Aaron Nell, Henri Sandvik and Ollie Betteridge - that Cats are looking strong.
“We have the best goalie (Lyle) in the league,” he said. “And with players like Aaron, the best Brit in the league, and Henri we are always going to score - I think we were averaging around three or four goals.
“We all need to make sure we play a strong team defence, because we are always going to have a chance.
“What we do need to do is be more consistent from the start, we can’t have dips in form like last year.
“We shouldn’t spend much time searching for the right chemistry this season as Ryan is working hard to get the other guys signed up.”
But Whitfield admits it is going to be difficult to predict how the new campaign will pan out with teams still in the early days of their recruitment.
“Manchester (last year’s league winners) have only announced one player,” he said. “So it is difficult to predict how as you just don’t know who the other teams are bring in.
“What I can say is that we should have a good squad with the likes of Stevie Lyle and Aaron.”