Team boss Carl Johnson insists Panthers have put together the best possible line-up for their SGB Premiership clash at Ipswich tonight (August 22).
The city side are without three of their regular riders for the trip to Suffolk with captain Hans Andersen (wrist), British champion Charles Wright (shoulder) and Ty Proctor (back) all sidelined after sustaining or aggravating injuries in a Monday (August 19) drubbing at King’s Lynn.
Johnson’s options for guests are severely limited with six of the seven top-flight clubs in action and a couple of riders from the only team not racing - Wolverhampton - declaring themselves unavailable.
One Wolves man, Luke Becker, did agree to step in for Wright while former Panthers skipper Ulrich Ostergaard replaces Proctor.
Becker is actually a replacement for another guest with Ben Barker, who was axed by Panthers earlier this season, initially taking the booking before pulling out late last night after riding for his SGB Championship club Scunthorpe.
Panthers will cover the absence of Andersen with the rider replacement facility so all members of the team are eligible to take an extra ride.
Johnson said: “It was clear that Hans wasn’t right on Monday at King’s Lynn which is why he withdrew from that meeting after a couple of rides.
“His wrist is causing him problems to the point where he is struggling to hold onto the bike and he obviously can’t ride in those circumstances.
“Ty aggravated a back problem at Lynn and has been signed off for a few days which should give him chance to rest and recover.
“Charles has been carrying a shoulder injury since he crashed in our home meeting against Belle Vue last month and hurt it again at Lynn.
“It’s a huge blow to go into a meeting with one rider missing, but to have three out injured is incredibly tough.
“The fact we have fixed race-nights in this league make it really difficult to bring in guests and a couple of the guys we approached at Wolverhampton weren’t available anyway.
“That was also the case with some riders from the Championship and we’ve had to work very quickly to put a team together.
“We thought we had it sorted yesterday only for Ben to then pull out late at night, but thankfully Luke is prepared to step in.”
Panthers are 11 points adrift at the bottom of the SGB Premiership following a torrid run of eight consecutive defeats.
Ipswich, who also jumped into the top flight last winter along with the city side, are riding high in second spot and look well-placed to make the play-offs.
“I don’t think many people will give us a chance of getting a result,” added Johnson. “But we’ll go to Ipswich with the aim of producing the best performance we possibly can.”
IPSWICH: Chris Harris, Richard Lawson, Cameron Heeps, Jake Allen, Danny King, Krystian Pieszczek, Edward Kennett.
PANTHERS: Rohan Tungate, Ulrich Ostergaard (guest), Luke Becker (guest), Rider replacement for Hans Andersen, Scott Nicholls, Aaron Summers, Jason Garrity.