Tuesday September 28, 2021
LEICESTER kick off their most important four days of the season when they visit Poole in the second leg of their KO Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

The Watling JCB Lions hold an eight-point lead gained from their recent victory over the Pirates at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena, but still face a major challenge if they are to progress.

A place in the Final against Glasgow, Edinburgh or Birmingham awaits the winners, although the Lions will rapidly turn their attention back to league matters and their play-off quarter-final against Scunthorpe this weekend.

Youngster Dan Thompson will be ruled out of all three meetings as he missed last Sunday’s trip to Glasgow having been taken ill shortly after Saturday’s home double-header against Kent.

Thompson remains less than 100 per cent having lost nearly 9lbs in weight after being unable to eat significantly over two days, and the sickness bouts he suffered left him in no condition to consider racing at Ashfield – the venue where he won Heat 1 in the abandoned meeting one week earlier.

Regardless of how he feels by midweek, absence due to illness carries a mandatory eight-day suspension from racing, so boss Stewart Dickson will be forced to operate the rider-replacement facility in the coming meetings.

That means Thompson’s rides will be shared between his brother Joe, Zaine Kennedy and skipper Kyle Howarth.

Poole have a concern of their own in Danish rider Benjamin Basso, who has made a positive impression since joining the club in mid-season.

Basso crashed out of the Pirates’ home win over Redcar last week, suffering rib damage, and is a doubt for the meeting, whilst at reserve the injured Stefan Nielsen is replaced by Zach Cook.

The size of the Lions’ task is shown by the Pirates’ home results in the Championship, where only once have they failed to hit the 50-point mark they require on Wednesday.

Leicester were beaten 52-38 at the Dorset venue in July – but with their overall form having improved greatly since then, Dickson is hopeful that his side can counter the threat provided by Poole’s top stars.

He said: “We have a fair chance with an eight-point lead, but we know how tough it will be.

“Sadly we are without Dan Thompson who sits out this and the weekend play-off meetings because he was ill and had to miss Glasgow on Sunday.

“But we'll be positive in all our meetings this week and look at extending our season beyond this weekend.”

POOLE: Rory Schlein, Benjamin Basso (TBC), Steve Worrall, Ben Cook, Danny King, Zach Cook, Danyon Hume.
LEICESTER: Nick Morris, Dan Thompson R/R, Ryan Douglas, Kyle Howarth, Hans Andersen, Joe Thompson, Zaine Kennedy.

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