Peterborough Panthers boss defends team changes ahead of important home meetings

Scott Nicholls in action for Wolverjhampton earlier this season. Photo: Jeff Davis.
Scott Nicholls in action for Wolverjhampton earlier this season. Photo: Jeff Davis.
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Peterborough Panthers team boss Carl Johnson is convinced the club have made the right changes at the right time.

The city side have boosted their challenge for the SGB Premiership play-offs by making a double-switch ahead of important home clashes against Poole (tomorrow, May 23, 7.30pm) and King’s Lynn on Bank Holiday Monday (5pm).

Carl Johnson.

Carl Johnson.

Seven-time British champion Scott Nicholls and comeback star Josh Bates have been drafted in with Ben Barker and Lasse Bjerre shown the East of England Arena exit.

Nicholls began his career at Peterborough 25 years ago and also raced for them in the SGB Championship last term.

He comes back to Alwalton in fine form after an impressive spell as injury cover at Wolverhampton and has also been piling up the points in the second tier with Leicester.

He is a team-mate of fellow new arrival Bates at the latter club. Bates has made an electric return to the track after missing the whole of last season with a serious back injury.

“Scott is a class act,” said Johnson. “He was superb for us last season - on and off the track - and I’m delighted to be working with him again.

“He’s been in terrific form in both leagues this year and topped Wolverhampton’s averages in his short spell there.

“I have to admit I’m a bit surprised they let him go given how well he has been riding, but Wolves’ loss is definitely Panthers’ gain. Josh has made an excellent comeback from a really bad injury and a long time out of the sport.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he deserves the opportunity to ride in the SGB Premiership and we’re thrilled to be able to give him that. Josh has also proven in the past that he can ride our track really well which is important.”

Nicholls arrives on an average of 6.56 and Bates slots into the side on a 4.61 mark which will place him at reserve alongside Aaron Summers.

Bradley Wilson-Dean now returns to the main body of the team after only two meetings at the bottom of the order.

Johnson is disappointed to see Barker and Bjerre depart, but feels they were given ample time to impress.

“It’s been tough for Ben and Lasse,” added Johnson. “They’ve struggled for form and suffered mechanical issues which have been costly.

“Neither of them have performed in the way they know - and we know - they are capable despite being given plenty of time to try to get themselves going.

“It’s always a shame to have to let riders go, but it was clear that we needed to try to strengthen the team and we feel we’ve found the right people at the right time to do that.”