Panthers have turned to a familiar face to fill an injury void.
The city club have signed Bradley Wilson-Dean to replace broken ankle victim Nike Lunna.
Wilson-Dean was a star performer for Panthers in the early months of last season before his form tailed off when suffering injury niggles.
But he is back on song again in 2018 after piling up the points during a recent short-term stint at fellow SGB Championship side Workington.
He was part of the Comets team that dished out Panthers’ heaviest home defeat of the modern era earlier this month, scoring 13+1 that night.
And club owner Rathbone is hopeful of more fine form once the New Zealand champion slots back into the Panthers fold for their next meeting, away at Glasgow on June 8.
Rathbone said: “It is really unfortunate to have to release Nike. He’s a great lad who has been an absolute pleasure to deal with.
“But he is likely to be out for around six weeks and we can’t contemplate being a man down for that length of time.
“It is a short season and we have a busy run of fixtures in June. Continuing to use rider-replacement is not something we want to do.
“We know Bradley well, he knows us well and he also knows the track well.
“I’m confident he will slot straight back in and he showed us all what he can do when part of the Workington team that beat us recently.”
The trip to Glasgow is the first of five league meetings for Panthers in June. They also host the Tigers a couple of days later on June 10.
They also go to Scunthorpe (June 15), Redcar (June 21) and host Lakeside (June 29) next month.
Panthers currently sit top of the standings but it is something of a false position given they have ridden at least three more meetings than all but one of their rival teams.
The club’s remaining SGB Championship Shield group stage fixture against Ipswich takes place on June 17 at the East of England Arena.