OXFORD City Stars head coach Kenny Redmond has praised their stand-in skipper Alex Staples.

The defenceman took over the on-ice leadership after club captain Darren Elliott was ruled out for a minimum of three months following a knee injury at Peterborough Phantoms last November.

Losing the forward was a big blow for the English National League South Division 2 leaders and Redmond looked for others to take more responsibility.

He said: “Losing Darren has been massive, the squad have all stepped up, but of course you always miss a big player like Darren.

“When we built the squad, we ensured we recruited natural leaders and we have a lot of strong characters, but equally we have a lot of young players who are learning every week.

“We asked Alex to step up and he has risen to the challenge and demonstrated what he is about and has been backed superbly by Dominic Hopkins as assistant captain.

“I couldn’t have asked for more from Alex and Dom.

“Darren has continued to lead by example by attending every training session and match and is assisting the coaching staff – he is a big presence around the place and is keeping everyone on their toes.

“We are hoping to get Darren back before the end of the season, in time for the play-offs, which would be a big boost.”

Staples, who joined in the summer from Chelmsford, said: “It’s been an honour to temporarily captain the Stars and a good experience for me, the boys have been fantastic.

“But I’d much rather have Darren on the ice with us and can’t wait to hand the captaincy back.

“Darren is ‘Mr Oxford’ and a first-class captain and all I am doing is holding the fort until he comes back.”

Leaders Stars do not have a match this weekend.