Edinburgh Monarchs head into tonight’s big Premier League speedway clash with leaders Ipswich Witches at Armadale seeking some inspiration in the wake of their Scottish Cup drubbing at the hands of Glasgow Tigers at the weekend.
However, the Capital side could still be without their influential reserve, Max Fricke, who injured his back in a dramatic pile-up with Rye House ace Kyle Newman. Despite hinting that he was ready to get back in the saddle, Fricke revealed: “I still haven’t made up my mind yet. Although I do feel better, I’m not 100 per-cent fit yet.”
If Monarchs are to stop the Witches, it’s imperative that the whole team starts performing as a unit again. Hungarian second-string Jozsef Tabaka could be the man to swing the match in Monarchs’ favour if he can return to winning ways.
The likeable Tabaka has been struggling to get out of the gate of late and some have queried whether his equipment is up to scratch or not. Monarchs director Mike Hunter hit back, however, revealing Tabaka has just recently splashed the cash on his bike. He said: “Jozsef wasn’t comfortable at Glasgow on Sunday but that was down to the track, he was bouncing about like a rag doll on the surface. He also had problems at Leicester but it’s not down to a lack of expenditure. Jozsef will be a key man tonight, but even when he doesn’t make the start, he can still be a sensational rider.”
Hunter added: This is going to be a very difficult match for us because Ipswich would love to win at Armadale. We need everyone to be at their best.”
Ipswich received a massive boost yesterday when No 1 Ben Barker, who hurt his back while riding for his Elite League side Birmingham Brummies and was predicted to be out for the rest of the season, was cleared to ride again after being released from hospital without having to undergo any surgery.
Ipswich direcor of speedway, Chris Louis, said: “This is fantastic news for his teammates and our fans. Having Ben back as we enter the play-offs is going to give us all such a lift.
“People should be aware that he might take one or two meetings to get back to his best, but he is back, and that’s the main thing.”
The Witches make one change at reserve, with Joe Jacobs replacing Kasper Lykke.
Monarchs’ league match at Workington Comets last night was abandoned after just two heats, with the scores tied at 6-6 because of heavy rain. It is unlikely to be restaged before Sunday’s cut-off date for the play-offs, but could go ahead next Monday. “It was the correct decision,” said Hunter. “It was raining before the start and had become quite wet after the second race was completed.”
No. 1 Craig Cook rode, but suffered an engine failure in heat one, after missing Glasgow with a virus infection.