Panthers will bounce back says team boss Johnson

Ulrich Ostergaard misses the Edinburgh trip.
Ulrich Ostergaard misses the Edinburgh trip.
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Team manager Carl Johnson is adamant Panthers will come through a tough spell to emerge as SGB Championship title contenders.

The city team have slipped to eighth position in the 10-team second tier after a run of three successive defeats – and they have also been hit by injuries to three riders in recent days.

But Johnson insists there is no need for panic with only a quarter of the league season completed. Panthers are within five points of the top four ahead of a run of three meetings in four days over the Bank Holiday weekend.

They face a daunting Scottish double with trips to table-toppers Edinburgh tomorrow (Friday) and third-placed Glasgow on Saturday, before hosting Workington at the East of England Arena on Bank Holiday Monday (7pm).

“You get spells in this sport where things don’t go your way,” said Johnson. “That’s what we’ve experienced in the last few days.

“Of course we’re disappointed with recent results, but we have to take the injury situation into account.

“Seeing last Friday’s home meeting against Berwick postponed was also a big blow as I feel sure we would have picked up a win despite having guys missing.

“A victory on our own track would have given us the confidence with which to hit the road for the away meetings at Berwick and Newcastle on Saturday and Sunday.

“I feel sure we would have won up at at Berwick with our full one-to-seven, or if we hadn’t lost Simon Lambert to injury.

“It goes without saying that we didn’t want to become the first team to lose to Berwick in the league this season, but things aren’t going our way at the moment.

“Going to Newcastle would have been a tall order even with our complete team, so it was always going to be tough when so depleted.

“We didn’t do any worse there than many sides will do, but we would obviously have liked to do better.

“It’s a tight league and while our current position in the table is not ideal, there is plenty of time to climb back up the standings.

“It is still very early days and I don’t see any reason why we can’t be challenging for a play-off spot.

“We’ve had a lot of bad luck lately, but hopefully that will turn around and we’ll start to catch the odd break.”

Few will fancy Panthers’ chances of picking up points in their double-mission north of the border.

Edinburgh and Glasgow have both started the season impressively, and both boast big home advantages at their Armadale and Ashfield bases respectively.

Panthers are without captain Ulrich Ostergaard at Edinburgh due to a Danish League commitment, but number one Jack Holder does return following his World Under 21 Championship assignment.

Injury victims Kenneth Hansen (fractured breastbone), Bradley Wilson-Dean (fractured hand) and Simon Lambert (wrist damage) are all expected to be fit.

Holder and Wilson-Dean will both miss the Monday home date against Workington due to SGB Premiership fixture clashes. Panthers have not yet confirmed their intended guests.

Workington are spearheaded by Craig Cook, who spent much of last season as Panthers’ number one.