Team boss confident Panthers will be challenging for honours

The Peterborough Panthers line-up for 2016. Pictured at the Press & Practice Day are from the left, back, Simon Lambert,  Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, Ulrich Ostergaard, Michael Palm Toft,  Tom Perry, Tom Stokes, front, Nicklas Porsing and Emil Grondal,

The Peterborough Panthers line-up for 2016. Pictured at the Press & Practice Day are from the left, back, Simon Lambert, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, Ulrich Ostergaard, Michael Palm Toft, Tom Perry, Tom Stokes, front, Nicklas Porsing and Emil Grondal,

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Team boss Carl Johnson insists Panthers should go into the new season ‘feeling positive’.

The city men are being tipped as major challengers for glory at Premier League level.

Club chiefs have assembled an exciting team which appears to be stacked with potential improvement after adding winter recruits Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, Nicklas Porsing and Tom Perry to the returning quartet of captain Ulrich Ostergaard, Michael Palm Toft, Simon Lambert and Emil Grondal.

Johnson said: “I’m confident we can be fighting for honours on every front.

“There has been a lot of debate about our team coming in quite a way under the points limit, but we have attracted the riders we want.

“We have as much potential for improvement as any team I have ever known. I’m confident all seven riders can kick on. We might not have an out-and-out number one in terms of averages, but we have three men in Ulrich, Nikolaj and Nicklas who could all be among the best in the league this season.

“We are also guaranteed to have a strong reserve throughout the season and that strength in depth will come in very useful.

“There are so many reasons for us to go into the season feeling positive, but it is important we start well.

“The postponement of the Ipswich meeting on Monday is a massive blow, but we’ll now focus on going to Sheffield next Thursday and getting off to a good start up there.”

Johnson will now be in sole charge of Panthers’ team affairs in 2016 with joint boss Dale Allitt unable to continue in his role.

Allitt has been made a promoter of King’s Lynn Stars and, under the rules of the sport, can’t occupy an official position with another club. He will still assist Panthers on a consultancy basis and will attend meetings when possible.

Johnson did initially serve alone as team manager for the second half of the 2014 season before Allitt arrived in the opening weeks of last term.

Johnson added: “We worked well together and I learned a lot from having Dale alongside me. We were very different in the way we do things – I’m more of a motivator whereas Dale had a more subtle approach.

“But I know he will always be there if I need any advice going forward and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and tap in to his knowledge and experience.

“I’m also relishing the challenge of getting the best out of the riders. I had a spell working on my own in 2014 when I took a team that was struggling to a cup final and to within a point of the play-offs.

“There will more pressure and greater expectations this season and it is time for us all to prove ourselves.”