The Premier League speedway Cup is a competition often used by teams as a gauge to determine the need to tweak squads before the championship programme begins.
But Edinburgh Monarchs, who will a create a club record of seven wins on the trot since the start of the season if they beat Glasgow Tigers at Armadale tonight, are not planning any changes to their line-up, despite growing concern over American signing Aaron Fox who failed to score in their recent away wins at Berwick and Workington.
Publicly Monarchs have pledged their full support for the struggling Californian, insisting he will flourish given time. However rumours have been rife that Fox arrived in the UK without a nut or bolt in his tool box leading to claims that he is mechanically ill-prepared for life in the furnace heat of the Premier League.
Monarchs reject this out of hand, and today team manager Alex Harkess leapt to his defence stating Fox has not gone to ground in terms of getting his name on the scorechart.
Harkess told the Evening News: “We are quite happy to push on and work with Aaron. We want to get him going and get the potential out of him which I’m sure is there.
“As a club we always knew it would be difficult for Aaron to ride in a team environment, and he is going to tracks he hasn’t seen before.
“He seems to be making the gate a bit more often now and has greater determination going into the first bend. There is no pressure on the team performance because the side are going so well.
“But we don’t want Aaron to disappear because he hasn’t achieved anything. We made a fair investment in bringing him over from the States so we must give him every opportunity to prove himself.”
Harkess said Fox will drop down to reserve before long after he completes four home and four away matches and hinted when that happens there must be signs of improvement from the 26-year-old racer.
“That will be an acid test for him,” added Harkess. “The reserve berth is a place he would have to start scoring from. Currently he is in an impossible situation, especially away from home, where he is out in the first heat, and it doesn’t suit him. But we did it because it is best for the club and we have to maximise every position.”
Monarchs’ bosses have escorted better riders than Fox out the exit door over the years. If his promise remains dormant they could find themselves on the horns of a dilemma.
If they persist with him and criticism becomes more vocal, they would have to act. Otherwise they would lay themselves open to showing a tolerance to one individual that hasn’t been afforded to others in the past.
Harkess continued: “Aaron is desperately keen to do well for us and is getting frustrated by his lack of points but we remain convinced of his talent.”
Fox will ride with new bike frames this weekend feeling the ones he has are not working for him. He commented: “Even Craig (Cook) couldn’t turn the ones I was using.”
Monarchs virtually sealed their League Cup semi-final place after toppling Workington 50-43 at Derwent Park on Saturday. Taming the Tigers will simply rubber stamp that, but Harkess played down the significance of tonight’s clash.
“If we make it seven in a row it will be a nice thing to laugh and have a smile about, but after that, it’s gone.
“It is an instant moment and you are only as good as your last result and we will get beaten eventually. Obviously it has been fantastic to make this tremendous start to the new season, it’s certainly better than seven defeats!.
“We are very happy right now, but the league is everything to us because it runs all season. We want to finish in the top six and then into the play-offs, and we’ll take it from there.”
Glasgow, who have lost both of their qualifying matches to date, are highly unlikely to halt the Monarchs juggernaut. They will also be without their regular reserve duo of Anders Thomsen and Kasper Lykke.
Monarchs’ tail-end magicians Justin Sedgemen and Steve Worrall will already be rubbing their hands in glee. Skipper Derek Sneddon, who injured his back at home against Workington, is still a doubt – rider replacement will operate if he remains sidelined.