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Chris Louis challenges Ipswich Witches to finish top – Kyle Newman blow, Justin Sedgmen injury latest

PUBLISHED: 12:23 23 August 2017 | UPDATED: 13:45 23 August 2017

Ipswich Witches director of speedway Chris Louis (left) and team manager Ritchie Hawkins.

Ipswich Witches director of speedway Chris Louis (left) and team manager Ritchie Hawkins.

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Witches boss Chris Louis is challenging his side to finish top of the Championship and secure first pick in the play-off picture.

The Suffolk side are currently second in the table and entertain Peterborough Panthers at Foxhall Stadium tomorrow night (7.30pm).

While the object of the Witches season has always been to reach the top four play-offs, the team’s recent fine form, including two away victories at Scunthorpe and Workington in the past few weeks, means Louis’ team are pushing hard for top spot.

“If we continue this really good run and a few other results go our way, we can make the top spot,” Louis said.

“I say to the team, let’s go for it.

“If we were to finish top, we have choice of pick for opponents in the semi-finals and choices of first leg or second leg at home. It has big advantages and sends you into the play-offs in confident mood.

“Our win at Workington has probably just about sealed our play-off place, so I would like to see us can kick on again and see where it takes us.”

The Witches entertain a Peterborough team who have endured a difficult season.

Tipped by many to be up among the front-runners, they have flattered to deceive on many occasions, although tomorrow, at full strength, they pose a real threat to a Witches side still missing shoulder victim Justin Sedgmen.

“I hate losing local derbies and Peterborough is our local derby,” Louis said.

“They are a good team when they are all firing and we must be wary.

“We are still missing Justin (Sedgmen). He’s had an injection in his shoulder and will have more physio next week to see where he is at with it.

“Certainly with a fully-fit Justin in our team, we are stronger for it.”

Sedgmen visited a specialist on Monday in Manchester who confirmed that he had ligament and joint damage. Although the injuries are serious enough to prevent him from racing the specialist believes that intense physiotherapy could heal the problem, but he has been warned that one more crash could lead to major surgery.

“After our match on Thursday I had to make a decision and after speaking to the specialist I know I made the right call,” Sedgmen said.

“I’ve ridden most of the season with this injury, putting my body on the line, but it was time to put myself first.

“I’m here to race, I want to race, but there has to come a point when you say I need to get things fixed and think about your body. I fully intended to race in all three matches last weekend but my body just wouldn’t allow me.

“When I met the specialist he sent me for an MRI and some other tests and after he had a look at my shoulder he was amazed that I’ve been able to hold onto the bike for so long. I’ve been over compensating with my other arm, protecting my injured side and it’s only made things worse.

“As it stands we can treat the injury with physiotherapy but if I damage it further I will need surgery to repair the damage. I’ve had injections to try and help with the pain and swelling, and I hope to see a difference in my movement soon.

“We will see where we are in a couple of weeks time.”

Kyle Newman is another who misses out for Ipswich after crashing at Poole on Monday night. He has leg injuries and is resting, Mason Campton, the Workington rider, takes his place.

Meanwhile Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins said: “We hope for another big crowd against Peterborough, as we were pleased with the crowd last week against Workington, and they got entertained on a good night.”

The Panthers will be missing Bradley Wilson-Dean and Simon Lambert.

Wilson-Dean has aggravated a hand problem after hitting the deck three times in two days - once in Peterborough’s loss at Scunthorpe on Sunday and twice will racing for top flight side Swindon the following evening. He recently sat out the club’s Northern tour with the same injury.

Lambert has been advised to rest the wrist he had surgery on back in June. He was left in discomfort during and after the defeat at Scunthorpe.

Panthers will use the rider replacement facility to cover the absence of Wilson-Dean and have drafted in former Ipswich man James Sarjeant to guest at reserve.

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