MAX Birbraer says he needed no second invitation to answer Swindon Wildcats’ SOS call after the club confirmed his place back on their roster for the 2019-20 season.

Birbraer spent the previous three campaigns in the Cats camp but the 38-year-old announced that he was unable to commit fully to a fourth season over the summer, so was expected to hang up his blades.

However, the absence of import Tyler VanKleef due to injury and Toms Rutkis’ regular availability unknown owing to his two-way deal with Elite League side Cardiff Devils has left Swindon needing to bulk out their squad.

Birbraer was therefore the first port of call for Cats player-coach Aaron Nell, and the former Israel international was quick to sign back up on a part-time basis.

“When I retired, I said it was only a semi-retirement,” said forward Birbraer.

“I know from past experiences that teams do pick up injuries and need help sometimes, so it wasn’t totally out of the question that I might be able to carry on playing.

“I do have a full-time job now so I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fully commit to hockey anymore.

“This situation works out well for both parties. I can help out when the team needs me on an ad-hoc basis to come in and cover for injuries or other situations.”

After four pre-season challenge fixtures, Swindon begin the 2019-20 campaign in the newly-formed National League this weekend.

Although Birbraer has maintained a general good fitness level over the summer, he concedes getting back up to speed on the ice is a top priority.

“I have kept in shape as a precaution and as personal thing too just to stay as fit as I can,” said Birbraer.

“I did skate a little bit over the summer as well, so I don’t think there should be any issues.

“I think a couple of weeks’ worth of game time will get be back up to game shape, which is the most important thing.”

Although he is playing catch-up in his preparations for the season compared to his team-mates, integrating back into the Cats camp will not be an issue.

Coach Nell has largely put together the same squad that won the NIHL South One title last season, so Birbraer’s transition back to the Link Centre will be a smooth one.

“Pretty much the whole team from the last couple of seasons is still there, so slotting in is not going to be an issue at all,” said Birbraer.

“Even the new import, Tomasz Malasinski, I have played with before.

“There isn’t one new face that I need to acclimatise myself with.”