SWINDON Wildcats could ice up to eight academy stars when they begin their Challenge Cup campaign against Chelmsford tomorrow night.
The newly introduced competition sees the EPL sides joined by a handful of National League sides, with rules dictating the higher division teams can only use two imports against their lower league opponents.
Ryan Aldridge is set to rest imports Jan Kostal and Kenton Smith for the game against the Chieftans, which will involve a host of youngsters including Michael Stratford, Luke Johnson, Kyle Smith, Glenn Billings and Latvian Toms Rutkis.
The Cats head coach is excited at the chance to see how his young players perform alongside the likes of established stars Aaron Nell, Shane Moore, Tomasz Malasinski and Lee Richardson, and backed them to hold their own.
“Jan (Kostal) is going to be on the bench with me and I will probably rest Kenton (Smith) too, but he might even come on the bench just to talk to the younger D players,” Aldridge told Link Sport.
“We will have eight of the academy players involved too so we will have a big old team but it’s good to give the younger guys a chance to play.
“The younger guys skated with us last night and they all worked hard, and against a team from that league they shouldn’t have too much trouble at all.
“There are a few of the academy guys who really surprised me last night so that is encouraging and it’s exciting for us to be able to give them a chance.
“I’m looking forward to seeing them skate and it should be good for them to get a chance to play with some of our bigger players, while there might also be a chance for them to play as a whole line themselves.”