Peterborough Panthers can only call on three of their own riders for one of the biggest meetings of the season tonight (October 5).
The city club travel to Scunthorpe for the opening leg of their SGB Championship KO Cup semi-final.
Michael Palm Toft, Ulrich Ostergaard and captain Simon Lambert are the only Panthers regulars who will line up at the Eddie Wright Raceway (7.30pm).
Number one Scott Nicholls (broken ankle) and reserve star Tom Bacon (burst fracture in back) are both out for the season while Bradley Wilson-Dean’s campaign was almost certainly brought to an end when he underwent collar-bone surgery last week.
Now Emil Grondal has been added to the casualty list for tonight after hurting a hand when crashing during the second leg of the club’s SGB Championship Shield semi-final exit against Lakeside last Sunday (September 30).
Panthers hope it is a case of horses for courses after turning to two former Scunthorpe riders as guests.
Newcastle man Tero Aarnio steps in at number one after also guesting for the club in their double-header away to Lakeside last Saturday (September 29), while experienced Berwick racer Theo Pijper covers for Wilson-Dean.
Teenage talent Drew Kemp – an emerging star during 2018 – comes in for Bacon at reserve. Kemp, who burst onto the SGB Championship scene with Ipswich after turning 16 during the summer, piled up 12+2 for the Witches in a league win at Scunthorpe.
Panthers owner Ged Rathbone said: “We don’t simply go for the highest average we can when selecting guests. We look at how riders have performed at the track in question and pick them on that basis.
“We’re confident we can do enough tonight to be make sure we are very much in the tie for the second leg at home.”
The trip to Scunthorpe begins a crucial spell of three meetings in as many days which can make or break Panthers’ season.
An SGB Championship play-offs semi-final showdown against Lakeside follows over the weekend.
The away leg at Rye House takes place tomorrow (October 6, 7pm) ahead of a Sunday (October 7, 5pm) return at Alwalton.
Panthers hope Grondal will return for those clashes with Rathbone adding: “Emil hurt his hand in the crash last Sunday and finished the meeting in pain.
“He saw the paramedic afterwards who signed him out for a few days so he misses the trip to Scunthorpe, but hopefully he’ll be back for the weekend.”
The second leg of the KO Cup semi then takes place at the East of England Arena on Saturday, October 13.
SCUNTHORPE: Kyle Howarth (guest), Stefan Nielsen, Jason Garrity, Jake Allen, Steve Worrall, Danny Phillips, Gino Manzares.
PANTHERS: Tero Aarnio (guest), Rider replacement for Emil Grondal, Theo Pijper (guest), Ulrich Ostergaard, Michael Palm Toft, Simon Lambert, Drew Kemp (guest).