Peterborough Panthers supremo hopes star-of-the-season Simon Lambert will only miss two Premier League meetings...despite suffering a broken shoudler blade.
Lambert was hurt in the Laurels individual meeting at former club Kent on Monday (July 20) night, much to the dismay of the city club who are challenging for title honours.
The 26 year-old has been a frequent match-winner to help second-placed Panthers become near certainties for a play-off spot – they sit 19 points clear of Berwick, the team immediately below the top six.
Rathbone said: “Simon is due to see a specialist later today and he is looking into all sorts of treatment to get back on a bike as soon as possible.
“It goes without saying I’m hugely disappointed to lose him to an injury picked up in an individual meeting.
“I appreciate he wanted to achieve something that had not been done before by winning that meeting for a third successive year, but there are more important matters in the grand scheme of things.
“He is a vital part of our team and it would quite frankly be impossible to replace him with another rider of his calibre on the same average.
“We are hopeful we can get him back for the Edinburgh meeting on August 9, but only time will tell whether or not that is too ambitious.”
If that does prove to be the case, Adam Roynon has already been put on stand-by to deputise against the Monarchs.
Ironically that could mean the latest of Panthers’ injury casualties this season is replaced by the first. Roynon was hurt in the opening race of the season back in March and was forced out of the club’s team plans as a result.
More immediately Panthers have booked Ipswich man Ashley Morris to cover for Lambert in their Saturday (July 25) trip to Workington, but they are still working on a replacement for the Sunday (July 26) clash at Glasgow.
The blow of losing high-scoring reserve Lambert could be slightly off-set by a rare piece of good news – Lewis Blackbird is likely to return to action after being signed off last week and missing the pleasing home success over Sheffield last Friday (July 17) night.
Tissue damage has now been pinpointed as the cause of the serious discomfort the locally born and based rider has been suffering since an East of England Showground crash two months ago.
He is undergoing treatment all week and has indicated he is likely to be in a position to return to the saddle for the Northern tour.
Teenage talent Robert Lambert scpred paid 10 points for Elite League club King’s Lynn last night (July 22) on his return from a hip injury. He could also be back for Panthers at the weekend.
Rathbone added: “I felt Workington and Glasgow were two meetings we could win with a full-strength team, but we are now in a position where any points we can pick up will be considered a bonus.”
PANTHERS CASUALTY LIST
Suffered fractured ribs and a punctured lung when crashing on the opening lap of the 2015 season.
It was an accident which forced him out of Panthers team plans although that loss was offset by the arrival of Michael Palm Toft, who has been a major success.
A happy homecoming quickly turned into a season-ending nightmare for a rider who helped Panthers to Premier League glory back in 1998.
Suffered serious ankle damage when slamming into the fence in an East of England Showground spill only a couple of weeks into the campaign.
Involved in a heavy crash in the first leg of a KO Cup first round tie against Plymouth in late May.
Initially sidelined for three weeks, but now signed off by doctors again as he still attempts to find the cause of back and rib pain stemming from the spill.
Could be back this weekend.
Currently out with hip trouble after a spectacular crash in a televised triumph at Berwick a fortnight ago. Club bosses ‘hopeful’ he may return this weekend.
Lambert has also missed a number of meetings due to commitments with Elite League club, King’s Lynn, as well as not returning for a home defeat against Ipswich following his involvement in the recent World Cup.
Sustained a broken shoulder blade after being hit by rival rider Dan Greenwood in the final of an individual meeting earlier this week.
Club bosses hope he can be back within two-and-a-half weeks, but he could face a longer spell on the sidelines in all reality.