Panthers chief says the season starts for real tomorrow

Simon Lambert should be back in action tomorrow.

Simon Lambert should be back in action tomorrow.

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Panthers chief Ged Rathbone’s sights are still set on securing second place in the Premier League.

They have dropped to fourth place and find themselves nine points behind a Glasgow side currently occupying second spot and a direct route into the semi-finals of the play-offs.

But, with three meetings in hand on the Scottish outfit, Rathbone is convinced Panthers can reel them in during the regular season run-in which starts with the visit to Newcastle to the Showground tomorrow (Friday).

Rathbone, whose men have six league meetings to go, said: “The season starts for real tomorrow as far as I’m concerned and our challenge is to get into second place.

“I don’t think there will be any catching Edinburgh who have stormed clear at the top of the table after some fine away wins lately.

“But there is no doubt in my mind we have the quality to pick up results home and away to get above Glasgow.

“It would be a massive boost to go directly into the semi-finals of the play-offs.

“There are so many strong teams battling to get into the top six and I would much rather be watching the quarter-finals than be involved in them.”

Panthers’ top-two bid is set to receive a boost with the return of high-scoring star Simon Lambert.

Club chiefs are hopeful he will be fit to face Newcastle after a month out with a broken shoulder blade.

Rathbone said: “Having Simon back will be like another new signing.

“He has been the best reserve in the league this year and hopefully he can pick up from where he left off before his injury.”

Panthers have an 11-point cushion over Plymouth - the team currently sat immediately outside the play-off places.