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Meeting Preview - Comets v Leicester (PL)
Photo by Dave Payne
Thu 04 Jul 2013 by Comets Press Office
Saturday 6th July at 7:00pm, Derwent Park, Workington

This Saturday evening sees the Leicester Lions visit Derwent Park for what promises to be another tough encounter against a side that, like ourselves, have hopes and ambitions of achieving one of those coveted top-six play-off places.

Earlier in the season the Lions held top spot in the Premier League for a while and in fact defeated us (53-40) at their home track back in mid-May, so we will be out for revenge on Saturday night. Additionally of course the Comets riders will be keen to put last week's very disappointing home defeat against Ipswich well and truly behind them and they will certainly be fired up for the visit of the Lions.

All being well, Saturday will see the Comets track a team of their own seven riders at Derwent park for the first time since April 20th following the injuries to Chris Mills and Tero Aarnio, allied with the international commitments on behalf of Team GB under-21's for Kyle and Ashley.

Having started the season with four ex-Workington riders in their side Leicester are now down to just two; as first Adam Roynon picked up a potentially serious injury when riding for his parent club Coventry; which ruled him out of action for over two months, while down at reserve another ex-Comet; young Dane Simon Nielsen, was released after failing to recapture his pre-injury form of last season. The two remaining ex-Comets in the Lions den are skipper Kauko Nieminen (7.82) and Aussie Kevin Doolan (6.96).

Kauko Nieminen remains very popular at Workington, despite having last ridden for the club in 2008, and having spent so long with the Comets he naturally still has many friends in the area. Since leaving the Comets he has spent time riding in the Elite League, for Lakeside, before joining Leicester in the middle of 2011 and then doubling-up with the Hammers.

This season he also rides for Belle Vue as well as the Lions and, at the start of June, he was rewarded with a well-deserved Testimonial meeting at Leicester.

Kevin Doolan, who actually acted as Chris Mills' mechanic in last week's Comets victory at Redcar, rode for the Comets in 2009 when he finished top of the clubs' averages. After being released by Ipswich mid-way through last season he joined Redcar and then the last close season saw him join the Lions for 2013.

Missing from Saturday's Lions side is Danish youngster Lasse Bjerre (7.38) who bizarrely picked up an arm injury playing football in Denmark on Sunday and has been ruled out of action for 10 days, which means that the Lions will have to operate Rider Replacement in his absence. However, with him currently lying second in their averages all other team members are eligible to take any of his programmed rides.

Effectively the fourth heat leader at Leicester this season is Swede Magnus Karlsson (6.91), the youngest of the three racing Karlsson brothers. Magnus began his British career with Edinburgh and had subsequent spells at Hull, Scunthorpe and of course his parent club Wolves before he arrived at Leicester. He had initially been left out of the Lions plans for 2013 but the early season injury to Adam Roynon (after just one match in Leicester colours) saw him recalled as a ‘temporary' replacement until Adam recovered. But, so impressive have his performances been that when Adam was ready to make a comeback in mid-June the Lions management elected to stick with Magnus and allow Adam to go out on loan to another club, which ultimately proved to be Sheffield.

Completing the Lions top five is the dependable middle-order Dane Jan Graversen (5.49) who is now in his third season with the club. Meanwhile at reserve the Lions brought in Swede Alex Edberg (4.39), who began the 2013 season with Berwick, as a replacement for Simon Nielsen in May.

The other reserve berth is taken by British-Aussie Robert Branford (3.00) who joined the club shortly after being crowned British under-21 Champion at Wolverhampton in late April when he took the place of Lewis Blackbird, who then went on to join Scunthorpe.

1 Richard Lawson (c), 2 Kyle Howarth, 3 Rusty Harrison, 4 Tero Aarnio, 5 Rene Bach, 6 Ashley Morris, 7 Chris Mills.

1 Kauko Nieminen (c), 2 Jan Graversen, 3 Kevin Doolan, 4 R/R for Lasse Bjerre, 5 Magnus Karlsson, 6 Alex Edberg, 7 Robert Branford.
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Last Updated :  Thu 04 Jul 2013, 21:16 UK - official club website.
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Dave Payne, Adrian Randall