Smillie rings the changes

MIKE Smillie does not hang about. He has planned his own changes to an Ipswich Evening Star Witches side that takes on Eastbourne Eagles at Foxhall Stadium tonight (start 7pm).

By Elvin King

MIKE Smillie does not hang about.

He has planned his own changes to an Ipswich Evening Star Witches side that takes on Eastbourne Eagles at Foxhall Stadium tonight (start 7.30pm).

In fact, he proved quicker than some of his riders in recent weeks when he flew to his car in the Coventry car park after Saturday's heavy Sky Sports Elite League defeat at Brandon.

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The Witches team manager was working out new averages following the club's 12th league fixture.

Of this dozen just two have been won – with Ipswich searching for their third success tonight.

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Smillie would love to be able to strengthen his side, and he has put forward his own ideas.

"If plan A comes to fruition we would be in a position where Daniel Nermark would be in one of our reserve berths until August at least," said Smillie.

"All I can do is to recommend and my hands are tied as much as anyone. At the end of the day it is down to what John and Magda Louis agree to.

"Our new green sheet averages, on which team building is based, is 45.11 and we cannot go higher than 46 points. This means we basically have to swap like for like."

Paul Hurry is unlikely to ride tonight after aggravating a hand injury in the Coventry defeat. He has already been told to take a rest from Ipswich's two British League Cup matches at Peterborough and King's Lynn on Friday and Saturday when Chris Slabon, Danny Bird and Daniel Nermark will be heat leaders.

Ipswich will use the rider replacement facility, as there is very little choice of guest. Hurry's pink sheet average – based on this year's performance – is 4.73, a reduction of 2.08 on the 6.81 average he started the season with.

Tom P Madsen has been the other major Ipswich disappointment with his actual average now 4.00 compared with the 5.42 he had last March.

"That is three-and-a-half points per match we are down just based on two riders," added Smillie, who is looking for a morale-boosting win tonight.

"I am quite confident we will win, but I am apprehensive in case Swede Peter Ljung cries off at a late hour. He has struggled this season and with a guest in his place, the Eagles will become considerably stronger."

There will be no change in Ipswich's riding order when new averages come into operation on Monday.

Eastbourne were beaten by Wolverhampton in the play-off final last season after topping the table. They will have their sights set on a first or second place finish this time around – to confirm home advantage in the play-off semi-final.

Coventry's Billy Janniro has been booked to replace the injured Mark Loram at number one. Eastbourne won the corresponding A fixture at Arlington 50-40, so Ipswich need an 11-point win to take the aggregate bonus point.

Tonight's line-ups

Ipswich: J Hampel, C Slabon, Rider replacement, D Nermark, S Nicholls, D Bird, TP Madsen.

Eastbourne: B Janniro, D Barker, D Norris, J Kylmakorpi, J Screen, A Shields, P Ljung.

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