Bird blow for Witches

IPSWICH are resigned to losing Danny Bird, right, for the rest of the season after the 24-year-old has been told that he needs a shoulder operation.Fellow floater Paul Pickering, who rides for Stoke in the Premier League, has been named in the Witches' side for their three meetings next week - at Eastbourne and Poole on Monday and Wednesday and at home to Eastbourne on Thursday.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH are resigned to losing Danny Bird, right, for the rest of the season after the

24-year-old has been told that he needs a shoulder operation.

Fellow floater Paul Pickering, who rides for Stoke in the Premier League, has been named in the Witches' side for their three meetings next week - at Eastbourne and Poole on Monday and Wednesday and at home to Eastbourne on Thursday.


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But he is suffering from a twisted knee and will not confirm his availability to make his Ipswich debut until after he has ridden for Stoke at the weekend.

If Pickering pulls out then squad members Garry Stead and Trevor Harding will come into the equation. However, if they are unavailable, Ipswich can then use a Premier League guest with an average not over nine.

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“Danny has dropped down from third in our averages in July to fifth in the August Green Sheet averages,” said Witches' team manager Mike Smillie today.

“Garry Stead has plenty of top flight experience if needed, while we will have plenty of scope if we have to dip into the Premier League for a guest.

“Danny has been told he will need four or five weeks rest after his operation, and that could take him into October. We are still confident of a high finish in the Sky Bet Elite League table.”

Bird sustained his shoulder injury riding for Reading at Glasgow two weeks ago.

“It's a nightmare,” he said. “I've been told the bone in the shoulder is two inches too high and needs screwing back. I've also ripped ligaments over the top of the shoulder. It all needs fixing.

“At the moment I'm trying to get the operation sorted out but I don't know when it will be yet. Hopefully I'll be back before the season ends, but we'll have to see.”

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