FOR the second time in just over a fortnight Berwick Bandits are sweating on the fitness of number one rider Ricky Ashworth.
And with an away meeting at Sheffield on Thursday the Bandits, for obvious reasons, are hoping that the former Owlerton favourite is able to make a return to the saddle.
Ashworth spent ten seasons with the Yorkshire club before being left out of their starting line-up during the winter.
A possible move to Plymouth fell through and he took the opportunity to resume his Premier League career with the Border outfit.
Back to back maximums in his opening meetings made him an instant hit with the Shielfield faithful, but then he suffered a lower back injury at Newcastle which kept him out of action for a week.
He made a racing return at home to Glasgow on Saturday when he dropped only one point (paid 14) in a hard fought 51-42 victory over the Tigers.
But in the return League Cup fixture at Ashfield on Sunday, where Bandits went down 56-35, he was forced to withdraw from the meeting, having retired from his second ride.
Ashworth was involved in a collision with Glasgow’s Jayden O’Malley, who fractured a knuckle. He took his place in the re-run, but retired from the race having aggravated his back injury.
He is now involved in a race against time to be fit for this week’s meetings against Sheffield tonight (Thursday) and Scunthorpe, at home on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Berwick signings Jason King and Lubos Tomicek have both expressed their delight, and their surprise, at joining the Bandits.
The pair, who both made their debuts for the club in the weekend home and away fixtures against Glasgow, said afterwards that Berwick was one of the tracks they both least expected to end up at.
“When I saw Berwick had signed Lubos I thought they had their team sorted and I didn’t realise an opportunity like this might arise,” said King.
“I thought I might have been lost to the Premier League, that’s why I am so delighted that someone has come in for me and given me a chance to prove myself again.
“Getting the call from Berwick came as a total surprise, but when they offered me a place I jumped at it.”
King only managed a total of three points over the two meetings but added:
“It was a bit of a rush to try and get everything ready, as I only agreed to the deal on Tuesday night.
“It was tough and I’m a bit tired, but I have had some decent meetings at Berwick in the past and I’m sure that once I get myself back up to speed again I will be okay.”
Tomicek, who was also something of a surprise signing, said he hoped to grab the opportunity with both hands, and after scoring paid 17 (7+1 and 8+1) over the two weekend meetings he certainly appears to have done that.
“I just want to prove to people that I can do a decent job at this level and score a few points,” he said.
“I have scored a few points in my first meetings but I would like to think I can do better once I start to develop some home track advantage.
“I didn’t know if I would be riding speedway this year, and at one stage I even thought about giving it up altogether.
“But now I have this chance I want to take it. I would also like to get a good run in the team if I can, because over the last few years I seem to have switched from one club to another far too often. It’s not good for the confidence, but at least I have a good collection of race jackets,” he joked.