The biggest day so far is coming up for Panthers

Promoter Ged Rathbone has billed a hectic Bank Holiday Monday as the biggest day of Panthers season'.

Thursday, 26th May 2016, 8:58 am
Updated Thursday, 26th May 2016, 9:58 am
Craig Cook on his way to victory in heat six against Ipswich. Picture: David Lowndes

The city racers face two important Premier League meetings against the bottom two teams in the table - and Rathbone is eyeing the vast majority of the seven points available as his side bid to build a play-off challenge.

Panthers travel to basement side Scunthorpe (2pm) – a team who have won only two meetings all season - before entertaining East Anglian rivals Ipswich at the East of England Showground (8pm).

Panthers have already collected two thumping successes over Scunthorpe – bashing them 64-26 at the East of England Showground and then triumphing 57-36 at the Eddie Wright Raceway in League Cup fixtures.

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The latest clashes will provide a reunion with former rider Michael Palm Toft. He was snapped up by Scunthorpe after recently being released by the city club to accommodate the double-change that saw top British star Craig Cook introduced.

Cook does not feature in the trip to North Lincolnshire due to a fixture clash with his Elite League side, Belle Vue. Panthers have again booked spectacular guest Kenneth Hansen while another Dane, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen is expected to return from injury.

Cook will be back for the evening clash against an Ipswich side who they snatched a dramatic 48-45 victory against last Sunday in a League Cup dead rubber after earlier trailing by a dozen points.

Rathbone said: “It is a hugely important day in our season – probably the most important.

“We’ll be going into both meetings looking for wins and getting them would really give our play-off challenge a boost.

“We proved twice in the League Cup that we are capable of beating Scunthorpe, but they will be massively up for this one and the fact they have Michael in their side will make it tougher.

“We also saw last Sunday that Ipswich have plenty of riders who can score points at the Showground and we cannot afford to take them lightly either.

“We’ve made changes to the team and we now need to kick on and cut out the silly slip-ups that have cost us league points and qualification for the final stages of the League Cup.”

Meanwhile, Rathbone insists he has no plans to replace injured star-of-the-season Tom Perry.

The 23 year-old is still awaiting surgery on a snapped collar-bone eight days after being hurt in a spill while riding for National League side, Birmingham.

Perry was due to rise into the main body of the Panthers’ side for the League Cup clash against Ipswich last Sunday after seeing his three-point starting average rocket to 5.58 courtesy of a series of fine scores.

Rathbone added: “It’s a huge shame for Tom to get injured while riding so well, but he hopes to be back within a month of his operation.

“We feel we have the strength to cope with being a man down for a while and we look forward to welcoming Tom back when he is fit and ready.”