Monarchs must face Witches without Riss

Edinburgh Monarchs rider Erik Riss
Edinburgh Monarchs rider Erik Riss
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Edinburgh Monarchs have been hit by a late injury blow ahead of tonight’s Premier League speedway clash against Ipswich Witches at Foxhall Stadium.

They will be without rising German star Erik Riss who crashed during a Grand Prix Challenge qualifying meeting earlier this week and has been ruled out of action.

Monarchs team boss Alex Harkess said: “It’s a blow for us and makes our task much more difficult now. Erik is feeling pretty sore and we will use the rider replacement facility to cover his absence.

“But we have to be optimistic and if one of our two reserves can come good we still have a chance of getting something from the match.”

At least Monarchs’ other crocked star Ryan Fisher has declared himself fit to ride after a nasty pile-up at Plymouth Devils last weekend.

The Californian racer careered into the safety fence in the sixth heat hurting his shoulder and wrecking his bike. But today Fisher declared: “I have been a bit sore this week but I will be okay to race.”

It could be an opportune time for Monarchs to make the long trip to East Anglia because the Witches have been toiling to find their scoring touch this season. And their recent hasty exit from the Knockout Cup at the hands of Rye House Rockets has simply compounded their problems.

It forced team manager Richie Hawkins to reach for the old cliché that: “We can now focus our attention on the league programme.”

And to that end they snapped up Oliver Greenwood on Monday to replace Darryl Ritchings in the No.7 reserve role. Greenwood will make his debut this evening subject to approval and Hawkins said: “The team are struggling and we had to make a change at reserve.”

Inconsistency has been the bugbear for Ipswich who are already adrift at the foot of the table having lost all three of their fixtures so far.

However, Hawkins is determined to make a push for the end-of-season play-offs. He said: “We have got to get ourselves going, the league programme has only started so there is still a long way to go. But we need to start finding our form beginning against Edinburgh and if we continue to do the right things hopefully it will click for us as a team.”

Monarchs have a decent record at Ipswich but the loss of Riss may well swing things in favour of the hosts.

Monarchs director Mike Hunter said: “For us to win our top four would have to dominate the meeting and this won’t happen now without Erik. A match point would definitely now be considered a bonus.”

To claim even a point Monarchs’ Aussie rookie Jye Etheridge really needs to live up to his five-point starting average but Ipswich is not a forgiving track for any newcomer, and Hunter added: “It is still proving difficult for Jye and I thought he would have done a bit better in our two cup matches against Plymouth.”

Team-mate Max Clegg has shrugged off the virus which caused him to pull out of last Sunday’s British championship semi-final at Glasgow’s Ashfield Stadium and he takes his place in Monarchs starting line-up.