James Neil playing back for the Phoenix

Tuesday, 2nd August 2011

J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix are pleased to announce the return of James Neil for the 2011-2012 season.

James, born in Nottingham in 1990, burst on to the junior scene in his home town in 2002, icing for the Nottingham Cougars in the under 16 league. Progressing with age, James also played for the Nottingham under 19 Leopards before moving up to the ENL Nottingham Lions in 2005.

His obvious talent was spotted by the senior Panthers and he dressed 26 times that year for the Elite League team. Although ice time was scarce, James was part of a very successful Panthers side in 2006, 2007 and 2008, picking up an EIHL Play Off winner’s title and 2 EIHL Challenge Cup winner’s medals.

Signing for Phoenix in 2009, on a two way contract with the Panthers, James was part of another Challenge cup win for the Elite Team.

His medal collecting was not confined to domestic hockey, however, and appearances in the GB under 18 and under 20 teams were just as successful, with a silver medal at Under 18 and a silver and gold at under 20 level, both at the World Junior Championships.

Of course the pinnacle of his career so far was being part of the English Premier League Championship winning squad at Phoenix last season.

James is returning for his third season with the Phoenix, but with a difference. After icing 105 games, predominantly as a forward, James will be, primarily, a defender for next term.

James said: “I first played as a defender two years ago and did not feel too comfortable. I played more games at the back last season when we had a few injuries, and although it took a bit of getting used to, I think I did OK. I am really looking forward to the role as defender next season as it brings extra responsibility and ice time.

I am more of a heads-up player rather than a physical one, preferring to look for the out pass from defence. Last season was brilliant, seeing just how much the title win meant to the backroom staff and the fans, and I am looking forward to more of the same.”

Coach Tony Hand had this to say about James’s return: “I am really pleased to have James back for next season. He is maturing as a player and played well in defence last season when needed. He is a clever player and I am sure he will do a good job at the back for us.”

James Neil

James Neil will be back for 2011-2012, but playing in defence.

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