Edinburgh Monarchs have been rocked by the news that their promising reserve rider Dan Bewley could miss more key races following his heavy crash at Newcastle Diamonds last month.
Bewley careered into the safety fence in race 11 after going too wide coming out of the second bend and also took his skipper Sam Masters down with him.
The 17-year-old starlet was diagnosed with concussion and hasn’t raced since despite expectations that he would return to the saddle sooner rather than later.
However, Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess confirmed today that the Capital club do not know when Bewley will make his next appearance for them.
With Monarchs on the brink of reaching the Premier League play-offs, Harkess said the loss of Bewley is a “big blow” and they will struggle to find a replacement capable of emulating the big scores Bewley was producing prior to his pile-up at Brough Park.
Harkess told the Evening News: “I spoke to Dan at the Premier League Riders Championship at Sheffield on Sunday and while he looked fine, he explained his balance is affected when he tries to turn his head and it’s fair to say he is not sure how long he is going to be out for. He never at any time, however, indicated he wouldn’t ride again this season.
“He is frustrated because he wants to be riding again now, but he is young and his health is the most important thing and we as a club are not putting any pressure on him to return.
“Only he will know when he is fully fit but obviously everybody wants to see him back in action as he is such a promising talent.”
Harkess revealed Bewley will certainly be sidelined this week and Monarchs will use a guest replacement for him and are not seeking to sign somebody permanently for the remaining weeks of the season.
But Harkess emphasised just how difficult the task is going to be to recruit a competent stand-in rider each week to cover for Bewley, who has taken the Premier League by storm in 2016, with big things forecast for the young Englishman.
Harkess said: “To lose Dan for however long is a blow for sure, simply because he was beginning to show what he is capable of. He was signed on a three-point average but made a mockery of that over the last month with some big scores. And he wasn’t just doing it for us. He was guesting for other Premier League sides and doing the same for them and was capable of anything.
“There are no riders out there who will be able to match Dan. We will do the best we can under the circumstances, but I’m not sure we are going to be any weaker overall.
Bewley commented: “I’m not 100 per cent fit yet and with my balance affected I simply cannot ride a bike at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Monarchs have confirmed they will tackle league leaders Somerset Rebels at Armadale on Friday, with three points essential to cement their top six place and qualification to the play-offs.
Following the postponement of Friday’s vital clash against Glasgow Tigers, it was hoped the Ashfield side would return this week, but that thought was quickly dashed when the Tigers confirmed they would be without two riders whose absence is not covered by any replacement facility.
Somerset, who are warm favourites to relieve Monarchs of their championship crown, were initially unsure about filling the fixture as they will be minus Josh Grajczonek, Rohan Tungate, and Charles Wright, who are all doubling-up in an Elite League match at Lakeside that same evening, but Rebels team boss Garry May is now confident he can put together a side to do them justice despite the loss of three key personnel.
And although Monarchs will also be without German star Erik Riss, who is on World Under-21 duty, Harkess added: “I’m happy enough to be racing Somerset and as long as everybody else in our team perform to their abilities we should be fine.”
With Friday the cut-off date for the play-offs, Monarchs’ outstanding fixtures against Glasgow and Peterborough Panthers will be arranged at a later date.