Blackbird hopes to be flying high

Lewis Blackbird in action.
Lewis Blackbird in action.

Lewis Blackbird is determined to come back firing for Panthers tonight (Thursday).

He is scheduled to make his return from injury in the second leg of a Premier League KO Cup first round tie at Plymouth (7.15pm).

Blackbird has not ridden for the city club since suffering two broken fingers and a back injury when crashing out of the first leg at the East of England Showground on May Bank Holiday Monday – three-and-a-half weeks ago.

He returned to action with a creditable seven-point haul in the British Final at his Elite League home track, Wolverhampton, on Monday.

Blackbird said: “It wasn’t ideal to have the British Final as my first meeting back after a spell out with injury, but I was desperate to ride as it is such a big event.

“I felt a little rusty early on but got better as the meeting went on. It was good to be back racing and putting on a show for my sponsors who were there supporting me.

“I was in a bit of pain the following day, but that is to be expected with something like a back injury.

“I felt fine on the bike though and I’m just looking forward to having a good run of form now. My target is simple – to improving my average in both leagues for both my clubs.”

Blackbird was due to ride for Wolves in the top-flight last night (Wednesday) at Belle Vue before making the long trek from Manchester to Plymouth to slot back into the Panthers side tonight.

His return will be a welcome boost as the city side face four meetings in the next 10 days – and they’ll have high-scoring reserve Simon Lambert missing for at least two of them.

Lambert suffered concussion in a spill during the Premier League victory at Newcastle last Sunday which automatically sidelines him for seven days.

He was also badly bruised and sustained a burn to his lower back in the crash, but he is targeting the Sky TV showdown at home to Glasgow on Wednesday (June 24) for his comeback.

Panthers bosses have made a shrewd guest booking by drafting in Ashley Morris – a rider somewhat harshly dropped by opponents Plymouth recently – to replace him tonight.

Panthers will operate the rider replacement facility at number one due to no suitable guests being available.

They had lined up ex-Plymouth rider Ben Barker, who helped them win at Newcastle, but he was hurt in a horror crash in the opening race of the British Final.

Panthers go into the second leg at the St Boniface Arena with a two-point advantage after winning the home leg 46-44.

Lambert would have missed the Saturday trip to Rye House in the Premier League even if fit due to a clash with an Elite League commitment.

His absence provides a return to the Panthers fold for Adam Roynon, who was cruelly forced out of the team after a nasty crash on the opening lap of the 2015 season in March.

Roynon is currently riding at Premier League rivals Redcar on a month-by-month basis. Richard Lawson guests at number one against Rye House while Brady Kurtz is called on again to face Glasgow in front of the nation.

The club complete their June fixtures at home to Plymouth in a league fixture on June 28 - the day they also stage the British 125cc Final for the second successive year.