Bandits reshape after Ashworth injury blow

BERWICK have been forced to ring the changes this week after their horrendous injury jinx struck again at the weekend.

The Bandits lost the services of their number one rider Ricky Ashworth, who broke his shoulder in the opening heat of their home league meeting against Somerset.

It took the tally of riders injured over the past few weeks to a remarkable seven in six meetings.

And with two home meetings coming up in the space of five days, plus an away meeting at Somerset on Friday, manager Ian Rae has had to act quickly to reshape his side.

Bandits will use a guest rider to cover Ashworth’s races.

But they have drafted in 23 year-old rider Nicki Barrett as a replacement for broken collarbone victim Lee Complin.

They have also added young Australian Micky Dyer at reserve, taking the place of fellow Aussie Robert Branford, who is ruled out for the rest of the season with knee ligament damage.

“Nicki will assume a full seven point average,” said Rae, “so it might be hard for him at first in his introduction to British league racing. But he’s very keen, and well-equipped.

“Obviously, we have a long-term interest in this signing, as he will become an asset of the Bandits after a certain number on matches in our colours.”

Dyer, who is 21, previously raced with Edinburgh.

“He picked up a foot injury three or four weeks ago,” said Rae. “He had to drop out of their line-up and wasn’t given the opportunity to come back despite getting fit again.

“Instead the Monarchs have agreed to his joining Berwick – and we’re very pleased to have him on board.”

Following Ashworth’s injury Rae said: “What have we done to deserve this? “It seems like we are jinxed at the moment.

“From the seven man team we had a few weeks ago David Bellego is now the only man who hasn’t been hurt.”

As a result of their injury woes Berwick have now been withdrawn from the Premier League Pairs next weekend - their place will go to Sheffield.

Following Friday’s meeting against Somerset Berwick will face Leicester Lions at Shielfield on Saturday before taking on Plymouth Devils in a re-arranged fixture on Wednesday.

In a bid to ease their problems Bandits last week revealed that they had been in contact with former rider Stanislaw Burza about a possible return.

Promoter John Anderson revealed that he had spoken to the Pole as a possible replacement for injured skipper Lee Complin.

“Stan knew about all the injuries, and said he was prepared to come over and finish the season with us” explained Anderson. “He told me he understood the Premier League did not allow Polish riders, but was prepared to take out a British (ACU) licence and ride for us under ACU control.

“He even had his van all packed up, ready to leave in a matter of hours – but even as we put plans in place to include him in our line-up as soon as possible, it became clear the Polish federation (PZM) would not allow his Polish licence to be revoked – even though he had completed his commitments over there for the season.”

“It would have been nice to see Stan back riding for us again, as he wasvery popular when he was here, but sadly, it is not to be on this occasion.”