No change in Witch craft

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches director Magda Louis today confirmed that the club is not thinking about making changes.Despite four straight defeats in the Sky Sports Elite League, she is confident results will improve.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches director Magda Louis today confirmed that the club is not thinking about making changes.

Despite four straight defeats in the Sky Sports Elite League, she is confident results will improve.

The Witches are at home to Wolverhampton at Foxhall Stadium tonight (start 7.30pm), and go into the match in confident mood – despite losing heat leader Paul Hurry last night because of a kidney infection.

Hurry joins Jarek Hampel on the sidelines, and Ipswich have no option than to use a guest for Hampel and rider replacement for Hurry. Skipper Scott Nicholls is the only rider who cannot be used to replace one of Hurry's rides.

Hurry has a blood clot the size of a tennis ball at the top of his left leg, a legacy of a grass-track accident last season.

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An infection has set in and is affecting his kidneys. He is now taking stronger tablets and hopes to be fit for Saturday's British League Cup match at Rye House.

"Our top form will come, I am sure about that," said Mrs Louis. "I am not concerned about the situation and am not thinking about making changes.

"Despite our injury and illness problems I don't anticipate losing tonight. We have given the three most fancied sides a close call away from home and were unlucky to lose at home to Poole when Scott Nicholls had a very rare off night.

"Scott is so dependable and will lead the charge to beat off the Wolves."

Hampel, whose chances of winning the world Under-21 title in his final eligible year took a blow when his injury forced him to miss a qualifying round this week, would have been out tonight anyway because of a Grand Prix qualifying meeting in his native Poland.

He broke his collarbone riding for Wroclaw last Sunday in the Polish League.

His average is not high enough to be covered by an available heat leader from another club, so Poole second string Bjarne Pedersen has been brought in as a guest.

Ipswich showed interest in signing the

highly rated Dane, who scored two heat wins when the Pirates won at Foxhall a fortnight ago.

His parent club Newcastle said that they were only interested doing a deal if the Witches bought Pedersen, but a couple of weeks later Poole loaned the youngster for a second year on an average deflated by rolling averages.

There is a chance that Danny Bird will come in and replace Leigh Lanham at number six for Ipswich, while Wolves will be looking to Adam Skornicki and their two reserves to cover for broken wrist victim David Howe.

Mikael Karlsson has changed his name to Mikael Max and will be a big threat along with his brother Peter Karlsson. A third brother, Magnus, rides at reserve.

Veteran Sam Ermolenko is the third heat leader, while Daniel Nermark will be riding for Ipswich against the side he starred with last year.

The Witches certainly know the importance of collecting their first Elite League points, but like Mrs Louis, team manager Mike Smillie is not unduly worried.

He said: "We have faced four tough

meetings, three of them away from home. Two have been against the side tipped as title favourites, Poole, and one against the side I expect to top the table, Coventry.

"Although I am not concerned about the situation, it will be a relief to beat Wolves. David Howe is a key rider for them and will be missed."

One thing is for certain the Foxhall track will be in much better condition than the Brandon circuit at Coventry for last night's live televised meeting against Eastbourne

Ipswich ride at Rye House on Saturday (start 7pm) in the British League Cup and their home meeting next week is on Good Friday when Peterborough are the visitors. This match will see the first race start at 2pm sharp.

Mrs Louis is backing her riders. Tonight they have a chance to endorse that faith.

Tonight's line-ups

Ipswich: B Pedersen, C Slabon, rider replacement, D Nermark, S Nicholls, D Bird or L Lanham, TP Madsen.

Wolves: M Max, rider replacement, S Ermolenko, A Skornicki, P Karlsson, J Grieves, M Karlsson.

Referee: Mick Bates