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Sheffield Tigers v Ipswich Witches – Play-off final preview

Ipswich Witches travel to Sheffield tomorrow night in the Championship play-off final, first leg.

With the second leg at Foxhall on Saturday, the Suffolk side would love to come home from Yorkshire with either a win or a narrow defeat.

However, against a high-flying Sheffield team, that won’t be easy.

Its mixed news for the Witches as Cameron Heeps returns to the side having recovered from his shoulder injury, but Connor Mountain is set to miss both legs having picked up a shoulder injury of his own while riding for Mildenhall last weekend.

Peterborough’s Tom Bacon guests at number seven as Heeps come back in at number three and rider replacement is used at two for Justin Sedgmen, who remains on the sidelines.

The Tigers should be at full strength for the tie with Todd Kurtz back at after injury, although both Josh Grajczonek and Josh Bates had nasty crashes at Glasgow on Tuesday night in their semi-final, second leg clash.

Sheffield have won both meetings between the two clubs at Owlerton this season, the first a convincing win early in the season before a tighter meeting a few weeks ago.

Team Manager Ritchie Hawkins says the team’s determination at Edinburgh in the semi-final, second leg last Friday night, got them through a tough test.

“I thought we were brilliant last week and it was a classic cup tie that swayed both ways,” said Hawkins.

“I said at the time that other teams I have been a part of would have fallen to bits but we showed great character. The boys’ determination pulled them through and we now need more of the same.”

Hawkins is delighted to have Heeps back in the side and says the Australian is raring to go.

“Cam was like a caged animal, he was desperate to ride in the semi-final but I wouldn’t let him and so hopefully a bit of that pent up frustration can be used in the final,” Hawkins added.

Sheffield: J Grajczonek, T Kurtz, L Bjerre, J Bates, K Howarth, J Graversen, G Wood.

Ipswich: D King, R/R, C Heeps, K Newman, R Schlein, N Greaves, T Bacon.

Follow Mike Bacon on twitter tomorrow night for live meeting updates

Two Ipswich Town stars will be looking to take a big step towards this summer’s World Cup over the next week while a host of younger players look to further their international careers.

Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has been impressed by Ipswich stopper Bartosz Bialkowski following his first call-up to the Polish national team.

Luton boss Nathan Jones is disappointed to lose the services of midfielder Flynn Downes due to international duty but is pleased to see the Ipswich Town youngster continue his development with England Under 19s.

Fighting for a place in England’s World Cup squad might be tough work for Burnley’s Nick Pope but it beats riding a milk float in the early hours of the morning.

Ipswich Town goalkeeper Michael Crowe was taken by surprise when he found out he had been called up for international duty, but is determined to learn as much as he can while away with the Wales squad.

Ipswich Town fans want to see young defender Josh Emmanuel given his chance in the first team next season.

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy says Josh Emmanuel may be sent out on loan again next season.

Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers hopes striker David McGoldrick has not played his last game for the club.

Season ticket prices, whether we’ll hear from owner Marcus Evans and manager Mick McCarthy’s future are the three big questions as Ipswich Town head into a two-week international break.

Did you hear about the Mick McCarthy press conference? He walked into the room, sat down, and apologised profusely to the loyal fans of Ipswich Town, writes Northstander Terry Hunt.

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