Edinburgh Monarchs have called upon Glasgow Tigers ace James Grieves to help them close in on the Premier League play-offs. Grieves will guest for Monarchs’ injured star Craig Cook in tonight’s big double-header test at Armadale against Scunthorpe Scorpions and Redcar Bears.
It’s absolutely essential that the depleted speedway team claim all six points which are up for grabs, but Monarchs gaffer Alex Harkess today warned of the pitfalls of staging two meetings back-to-back.
“Double headers are always potential banana skins because if you get somebody injured in the first match you could struggle. I don’t like them, but we have been forced into it because of all the rain-offs we’ve had so far this season.
“They always worry me because of the potential for injuries. You don’t want to be weak going into the second match, but hopefully everything will go well for us.”
Monarchs will face Scunthorpe first in what will be a very demanding test, especially as the Scorpions will be racing ex-Monarchs No. 1 Kevin Wolbert as a replacement for the sidelined David Howe.
Scunthorpe are currently fifth in the table and toppled leaders Somerset Rebels 50-40 at home on Monday, the match becoming a personal triumph for Josh Auty who romped to a maximum 15 points.
Said Auty: “Somerset are a tough side, so it was good that we managed to beat them. And it didn’t get any better for me scoring a maximum.
“Things are going well for us right now and we look set to qualify for the play-offs. We have got a bunch of young lads who are hungry to ride bikes.”
Scorpions captain Ashley Birks added: “It was a great team effort to defeat Somerset. Everybody chipped in with something and Josh was quite superb.”
Harkess acknowledges that Scorpions carry a potential sting, but said: “Scunthorpe are a very good team and are on a level with Somerset and Newcastle, but we showed what we can do under normal circumstances when we beat both of those sides recently.
“However, because of our injury situation these are not normal circumstances at the moment, but I still think we can sort Scunthorpe out.
“James can beat most people round Armadale, with the possible exception of our team, and that’s only because we have been so strong at home. But I think James will do a good job for us.”
Despite the loss of Cook and reserve Joszef Tabaka, Harkess insists this twin blow has not derailed Monarchs’ chances of having a tilt at a fourth championship crown.
“The play-offs are still ours to lose. However, if we take maximum points at home we will finish in the top six. If we pick up anything else away from home that would be a bonus, but not crucial. We must grab all six points tonight and of the teams still to visit Armadale, Scunthorpe are the most difficult.”
Harkess also revealed that Cook, who broke his wrist riding in skipper Matthew Wethers Testimonial meeting a fortnight ago, is itching to get back in the saddle as soon as possible.
“Craig is keen to get laser treatment for his wrist from a specialist in Ipswich who a lot of speedway riders go to, and we are trying to get him an appointment to see if it will help speed up his recovery.”
If Monarchs come through unscathed against Scunthorpe, they look odds-on to take care of Redcar who are propping up the division, though the Teessiders remain the only team to have won a victory at Armadale this year.
Monarchs are also in action at Berwick Bandits tomorrow night, and Harkess added: “I will be very disappointed if we leave Berwick with anything less than a point.”
The Scunthorpe match starts at 7pm and the Monarchs’ supporters bus leaves Waterloo Place at 5:45pm.