KO CUP PREVIEW: Perry boost for Panthers ahead of quarter-final
Peterborough Panthers have received an injury boost as they go in search of Premier League KO Cup glory tonight (June 28).
The city racers travel to Somerset for a quarter-final first leg clash (7.30pm) with the tie then being completed at the East of England Showground on Sunday (July 3).
And the Panthers team that takes to the track at the Oaktree Arena will feature British talent Tom Perry for the first time in more than a month.
Perry has declared himself fit to return following collar-bone surgery at the end of May and will slot into the main body of the Panthers side for the first time.
He starred in the early weeks of the season as the club’s mandatory British reserve to earn the rise, but was hurt in a National League smash before he could make it.
Promoter Ged Rathbone said: “Tom had a couple of practice sessions last week, including one at the East of England Showground after our win against Plymouth.
“He has then ridden twice in as many days for his National League club, Birmingham on Sunday and last night (June 27).
“He came through those meetings with no ill effects and is looking forward to the challenge of riding in the main body of a Premier League team.
“I’m sure that would have been beyond his wildest expectations at the start of the season, but he was a real success at reserve and can hopefully pick up from where he left off.”
Perry could be a valuable member of the Panthers side tonight after spending 18 months as a Somerset rider earlier in his career.
Red-hot reserve Simon Lambert is another former Rebels man in the Panthers camp while number one Craig Cook holds the track record at the Oaktree Arena.
The tie provides a clash of two of the leading teams in the second tier of the sport. Panthers sit one point off the Premier League summit in second place while Somerset are a point further adrift in fourth, but they have won all seven league meetings to date and boast a stack of matches in hand.
And it is that sort of form, combined with their fine past record against Panthers, which makes them hot favourites to progress according to Rathbone.
He added: “Somerset always tend to beat us heavily at their place and they have won in their last four visits to the Showground.
“They have become our bogey team since being back in the Premier League and they will be confident of going through to the semi-finals, but all the pressure is on them.
“It is a tie where we have little to lose, but a lot to gain and hopefully our current team can give them a real test.
“It would mean a lot if we could make it through and a get a step closer to honours.”
SOMERSET: Josh Grajczonek, Bradley Wilson-Dean, Charles wright, Paul Starke, Rohan Tungate, Jake Allen, Zach Wajtknecht.
PANTHERS: Craig Cook, Tom Perry, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, Emil Grondal, Ulrich Ostergaard, Simon Lambert, Zdenek Holub.